Yet another conference. Academics and industry professionals come out of the last session of the day; some of them are on mobile phones, and others are in deep conversation, and all of them are on their way to dinner. A pretty mundane, ordinary sight in IISc during these December days, actually. Except today.
At around 7:30 p.m., unidentified gunmen (one, two, or more? no one is sure) opened fire on a group of conference participants leaving the J.N. Tata Auditorium, which is just across the road from the main campus of IISc. As of this moment, one academic (Prof. M.C. Puri of IIT-Delhi) has succumbed to the gunshot wounds and several others are being treated in at least two different places: M.S. Ramaiah Hospital and Mallige Hospital.
TV footage from these centres (IISc and the two hospitals) show quite a few familiar faces. At Mallige Hospital in particular, where one of our colleagues Prof. Vijay Chandru (of the Department of Computer Science and Automation) has been admitted for surgery. Through the glass windows, we can clearly see two other colleagues Prof. Swami Manohar and Prof. Ramesh. Reports indicate that Prof. Chandru will pull through. I hope the others do, too.
The police have announced that the perpetrators of this crime is still at large, and that the entire city has been put on high alert. Back in the campus, though, things have quietened down. Most students are back at work, just as they normally are. Tonight, however, they will probably spend substantial amounts of time trying to find and share new information, and trying to come to grips with this atrocious attack within our campus.
Whatever spin one puts on this incident, it is clear that it is big for Bangalore, and even bigger for us in IISc. Some day, we will probably look back at it and say "That was the day when ...". Tomorrow, however, we will all be back at work, just like any other day. For, that's the only way to beat the terrorists. I sincerely hope the government does not declare tomorrow a holiday -- for us in the Institute, or for any of the other establishments in the city. Except, of course, for security reasons.
Even more importantly, tonight, right at this moment, our thoughts -- and best wishes for a speedy recovery -- go out to our colleagues and other conference participants who are in the hospital. Our sympathies and condolences -- go out to the family of Prof. M.C. Puri, an unfortunate victim of a random act of violence in the Garden City of Bangalore.