Serial blasts rock India’s IT hub for first time

July 25th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party

Bangalore, July 25 (IANS) India’s IT hub Bangalore, hit by serial blasts for the first time Friday, is known both as a peaceful city and a safe place for setting up sleeper cells by terror groups. It has not been rocked by terror attacks like several other major cities in India, though Indian intelligence agencies have often advised the state administration to be on guard as the city, known as the country’s Silicon Valley, is a potential target.

The first major terror strike in the city was on Dec 28, 2005, when a lone gunman opened fire at delegates coming out of an international seminar at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). M.C. Puri, a retired professor of the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, was killed and four others were injured.

The hand of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba is suspected in that attack.

Since then, Karnataka police have arrested several people on suspicion of being activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and having links with Pakistan-based terror groups.

Bangalore was shaken in June 2007 when three highly educated young men, mechanical engineer Kafeel Ahmed, his doctor brother Sabeel, and their distant relative Mohammed Haneef, also a doctor, were suspected of involvement in the failed attempt to bomb Britain’s Glasgow airport.

Kafeel died of burns sustained in the attack, Sabeel was sent home recently as he pleaded guilty to having information about the attack and not informing police, while Haneef, detained in Australia where he was working, returned home last year after police dropped charges against him.

In January this year, police arrested six people, including a medical student, on suspicion of links with terror groups. Investigations are on in the matter.

Bangalore police have not yet linked Friday’s blasts to terror groups. Since they were low intensity blasts, police say the intention was to create terror and panic and not cause massive damage.

Friday’s explosions are also the first since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in the state for the first time on May 30.

“This is a clear case of well-organised conspiracy to disturb harmony and peace in the city,” Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said of the blasts.

“All blasts are of the same kind. This proves it was a well-planned act,” he said.

“Remember today is Friday,” Yeddyurappa said.

He announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 to the family of the woman, Lakshmi, killed in the blast and Rs.25,000 to the injured.

Karnataka police chief R. Sri Kumar who was in Chennai when the blasts took place, returned to Bangalore to attend an emergency meeting of the state cabinet.

“We will have to investigate to come to any conclusion,” he told reporters when asked if it was a terror attack and which group he suspected was involved.

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