We had an interesting day today in Bangalore. Terrorists, likely one of two militant Muslim groups (the SIMI or a Kashmiri group calling itself the LeT), set off a series bombs in downtown Bangalore. It is still early and not everyone agrees even on the most basic facts. Some reports say that there were seven blasts and others say nine. They were all low powered bombs it seems. Two people were killed and a score or so wounded.
Five million others went home early.
Naturally this caused some excitement in our household. About an hour after the bombs went off, news reached Daniela, who promptly called me and let me know. I then started calling around to the parents of our kids’ classmates to see what was going on with the school. Would they be sent home early, or might they be held at the school. These were relevant questions as the real action with terrorist attacks in India is often not the bomb blasts, but the follow up rioting as Hindu hotheads go out into the streets and take their anger out on any Muslims – or indeed anyone – they find. Trying to reach anyone was virtually impossible as the networks were jammed with traffic …or so I thought at the time.. Eventually one of the parents told me that the busses were sent home an hour early, so I already went to the bus stop to wait for the kids. They were only about twenty minutes early. They had staggered the actual release of the busses from the school and the police had an extreme lockdown on bus and truck traffic.
The kids seemed both frightened and exited; probably more the latter. The news of the blasts and the teachers’ caution during the ride home (there is a teacher on each bus) imparted the seriousness of the situation. It did not impart a great grasp of the facts. The things I learned from Charlotte include:
To listen to Charlotte, Vartur looked more like the western front during the First World War than… well… Vartur. Never fear, the closest blast was at least 10km (6 miles) away from any of us and the kid’s school is even further from the center of town. It is really out in the countryside.
Our driver’s usual route home takes him through a neighborhood that was bombed. He took an alternate route to avoid that neighborhood and downtown in general in case there was any rioting. It turns out that the mobile phone networks were being jammed by the government to “prevent the spread of rumors”; which to me sounds like a euphemism for “prevent the formation of mobs that might run amok all weekend and kill another hundred”. This seems to have had the desired effect so far. Interestingly, while we were waiting for our kids at the bus stop, one of my neighbors had an interesting observation. Traditionally, Indians have rioted after terrorist attacks; but this has abated in the past couple of years as, sadly, Indians have become used to them.
I’m sure that jamming the phone networks still doesn’t hurt.
Holger’s flight back to Germany is tonight. The taxi picked him up at ten. Tonight is likely the safest day of the year to fly. The terrorists have already done their thing and security is extra tight; as it always is after the attack. He should have interesting stories about the airport.
Seriously, what did these people hope to achieve by killing a poor woman at a bus stop? I’d have expected terrorists – at least the “professional” kind – to go after one of the tech companies to try and scare off foreign firms.