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Connection to the Bangalore Shooting

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December 30, 2005 11:52 IST

Trust the terrorism experts to get their opinions up and running, when a terror attack happens. They have knowledge, I know; they have opinions, I can see that. But I'm always amazed, and a little overawed, at the speed with which they put together their analyses. And even make them seem so obvious and reasonable.

Horrible what happened at the Indian Institute of Science, I know. Let's hope that the scum who think shooting at scientists is a good thing to do will be quickly caught and punished. Nothing less will satisfy; yet this is nothing more than we all yearn for, every time terrorists strike out.

But read B Raman on Why terrorists struck Bangalore, written and published less than 24 hours after the IISc tragedy. In his analysis, you will find these paragraphs:

The (IISc) incident has coincided with the reported shifting of Abu Salem, a member of the mafia group headed by the Karachi-based Dawood Ibrahim, to Bangalore to undergo a lie detector and other forensic tests in connection with the investigation into his alleged involvement in the serial Mumbai blasts of March 1993, in which nearly 250 innocent civilians were killed.

The explosions were carried out by Dawood Ibrahim, then based in Dubai, with the help of some Mumbai-based Muslims, who were taken to Pakistan via Dubai and got trained and armed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

Abu Salem, who was arrested by the Portuguese authorities, was recently extradited by them to India after he and Monica Bedi, a woman companion of his, had completed a prison sentence in Portugal after having been convicted on charges of entering Portugal with false travel documents.

All exactly right, of course. (Well, I have some quibbles, but they are not germane here). You are meant to read this and think to yourself that all this -- Salem, Dawood, the blasts of 1993, etc -- is connected to the outrage at IISc.

Which may be so, and perhaps we will find that out in the days to come. But here's the kicker: while writing this, Raman has no evidence to make this connection, and has no business getting his readers to make it in their minds.

I believe so, but it's not me saying so. Raman himself does.

In his article, the sentence that immediately precedes those paragraphs reads: 'The person or persons responsible for the attack have not so far been arrested or identified.'

The sentence that immediately follows those paragraphs reads: 'There is so far no evidence to connect the shooting incident with the shifting of Abu Salem.'

If they have not been identified, and if there's no evidence to connect the IISc attack to Salem, and if Raman himself tells us as much, why does he put in three entire paragraphs -- 140 words -- about Salem in the first place?

Simple. Because he wants you to make the connection.

Think I'm being harsh? Well, suppose I wrote a similar article analysing the IISc terror attack. Let's say I stuck three paragraphs in the middle about the recent rape and murder of a call centre employee in Bangalore. Let's say the sentence immediately before my three paragraphs was Raman's: 'The person or persons responsible for the attack have not so far been arrested or identified.' Let's say the sentence immediately after my three paragraphs was also Raman's, slightly modified: 'There is so far no evidence to connect the shooting incident with the rape and murder of this call centre employee.'

What would you think? I hope that you would call me on this gratuitous insertion, this attempt to make you see connection where there is none. I hope that you would dismiss my supposed "analysis" -- at least these three paragraphs -- as the emptiness it is.

Yet a 'former head of counter-terrorism' gets away with an analysis like this.


After the October bomb blasts in Delhi, there was a slew of newspaper articles quoting figures from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, which describes itself as the 'largest web site on terrorism and low-intensity warfare in South Asia.' The IISc killing is up the site already. K P S Gill, revered around the country for stamping out terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s, is one of SATP's founders, which lends it credibility. And yes, it has all manner of tables and figures about terrorism.

The day after the Delhi attacks, The Times of India had an article that quoted SATP figures to conclude that India is among the 'worst victims of terror' in the world. Those figures are worth a peek.

First, the figures in the Times article come from a SATP page called India Fatalities. Between 1994 and 2005, you will read there, 50,937 people died in terrorist violence. (The Times quoted that 50,937). Of those, says the page, 19,662 were civilians and 7,320 were security force personnel. The rest -- 23,955, nearly half the total -- were terrorists.

Should dead terrorists be included in such a total?

Second, the page lists no sources for the numbers it offers up. In fact, not a single India-related page, all linked from one page titled India Datasheets, lists any sources. Instead, you find statements: 'Compiled from news reports and are provisional' (on the Fatalities in Left-wing Extremism page) and 'Compiled from English language media sources' (on the ISI-related modules Neutralised outside J&K and the Northeast, 2004-5 page, the Bomb Blasts in Delhi, 1997-2005 page, and the Bomb Blasts in Mumbai, 1993-2005 page).

SATP uses press reports to compile its figures. In turn, the press quotes SATP's figures in its reports.

Analysis, once again.


It has been a year of great tragedy, natural and man-made: a tsunami, bombs in Delhi, floods and a collapsed hillside in Bombay, more floods in Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Gujarat and Bangalore. There has been, as well, a clutch of smaller-scale atrocities: a policeman rapes a girl on Marine Drive in Mumbai, the call centre outrage in Bangalore, a young Indian Oil employee murdered while doing his duty.

The shooting at IISc comes as a depraved coda to all this.

And when I look back on it all, I think: the least we owe those who died is a clear-headed, forthright examination of what went wrong and how we can bring about justice. I'm no expert on those things, so I ask those who are: May we have that, please?

You can send me your comments at Death Ends Fun:
Dilip D'Souza