How terrorists win

Bangalore, the city my parents live in, was shocked on the 28th of this month. A man brandishing an assault rifle fired indiscriminately on scientists attending a conference at the J.N. Tata Auditorium, across the road from the Indian Institute of Science(IISc). One scientist was killed and at least three others injured. Later investigations also found that grenades were hurled too, but luckily one didn’t have its pin removed and the other didn’t explode. Obviously the number of people killed/injured would have been more if either or both of them exploded.

This is the first time that something like this has happened in Bangalore. Two days later, it still isn’t clear what was the motivation behind the attack, nor which group, if any, was responsible for it. The police only today have released a sketch of the man based on accounts from some of the injured. There is still some uncertainty about whether there were more than one attacker and how he/they made their escape. On the day of the attack it was reported that he/they got away in a white Ambassador car. Now it appears that there may not have been any car involved.

In the aftermath of that incident, various threats have been received apparently by fax, threatening celebrations at hotels on New Year’s Eve, the Chief Minister’s residence and even a mediocre college named Oxford College (completely unrelated to the UK University.) Obviously the police have to take such threats seriously and investigate but what silly is when people start locking themselves in their homes refusing to go out because they are scared. Noises are made about how the security at the IISc is terrible. I was really happy to see Dr. Balram, the director of the IISc, come on national TV this morning and say that the very purpose of an academic institution will be defeated if it is turned into a fortress. He did agree that perhaps institutes need to be more alert, but did not think that a lockdown is needed.

Which brings me to the point I want to make. How do terrorists win? Killing a random individual is hardly going to make a difference to a nation. They win when they succeed in terrorising people. If a bomb is exploded in a market before a busy festival season and people stop celebrating or shopping, they win. When people are afraid to go on living their normal lives, they win. Sure, we need to worry a little more and be a little more careful, but locking ourselves up doesn’t work. Terrorists shouldn’t be given that satisfaction.