All of it boiled down to one question how prepared is the city, perhaps any city, or its police force, to avert or deal with a “terror strike”?
They also point out that such blasts are difficult to predict or monitor as they “may not involve a large network and could even be the work of local individual elements.”
But the city is firmly on the world map with a strong connect to most countries and a large population of expats; hence even a low intensity explosion would make a global statement, explained former Director of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), P.K. Hormis Tharakan.
Local problems add to the city’s vulnerability. The sheer enormity of its growth over the last two decades has made it extremely difficult to monitor or police.
According to the 2011 census, the city’s population is over 96 lakh and more than 60% are migrants from different parts of India and the world.
When compared to any other Indian city, the proportion of those who have moved to Bengaluru over the last decade or two is overwhelming, and even old inhabitants of the city find it difficult to comprehend the changes that have swept through.
This only makes it easy for any criminal element from anywhere in the country to disappear in it, according to police officers.
The recent arrest of the alleged IS tweeter Mehdi Masroor Biswas was an example of how an individual could seem like a perfectly normal young migrant employee of an MNC, but could be involved with a global terror ideology.
Geographically, the city ensures easy road connectivity to places such as Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Kerala. This adds to the security nightmare as it’s difficult to monitor entry and exit of people.
Against this backdrop, has the city’s police force been augmented with the strength it needs to deal with the challenge?
“Each time such an act takes place, there’s a knee-jerk reaction, but the key is to have systematic investment in technology, manpower and set up a model institution for counter-terrorism” said Pratap Hebilikar, a former bureaucrat who specialises in insurgency-related issues.
For instance, an internal security division was set up in 2006, but it has suffered neglect and has often had several posts vacant. In fact, police officers admit that “postings to the division are seen as punishment postings and not accorded to officers with serious experience.”
The failure to build a stronger security apparatus despite incidents like the arrest of suspected IM operative Yasin Bhatkal and allegations that Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal, from Bhatkal village in north coastal Karnataka, constituted the top leadership of the IM is telling.
However, these elements are not known to have been active in Bengaluru city itself and have instead been focussed on activities in Mumbai and other places outside Karnataka.
“Big organised crime has not been a feature in Bengaluru,” pointed out . Tharakan.