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Fatal Shots Fired at Indian Institute of Science

Attack by gunman included grenades; a professor of mathematics is dead

by Jean-François Tremblay
December 29, 2005

Lost Innocence
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Credit: Photo by Jean-François Tremblay
Calm at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore wasshattered by murderous violence.
Credit: Photo by Jean-François Tremblay
Calm at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore wasshattered by murderous violence.

One retired professor of mathematics died and four other people were injured when a gunman fired on and threw grenades at attendees of a conference at the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in Bangalore, India. Authorities say the attack may have been the work of a terrorist.

The incident on Dec. 28 occurred in the early evening as delegates, wrapping up the day's events, were making their way toward dinner, the newspaper Indian Express reported. Attendees, who included 36 foreigners out of 300 participants, were discussing operational management issues at the International Conference on Operations Research Applications in Infrastructure Development, organized by the Operational Research Society of India.

The retired professor is M. C. Puri, who taught at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The gunman, who escaped in a car, also put three bullets in Vijay Chandru, an IIS professor of computer science who graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is best known in India for codeveloping the Simputer, a low-cost computer for the poor in developing countries.

Unlike at other government research institutes such as Pune's National Chemical Laboratory or Hyderabad's Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, security is not tight at IIS. The grounds of the institute, which is operated much like a university and teaches thousands of students, are open to the public. IIS is among the most respected institutions in India.

"The security measures have to be tightened," says S. S. Krishnamurthy, an honorary professor at IIS' department of inorganic and physical chemistry who used to head the institute's chemical sciences division. "This is a difficult task in an educational institution which must also provide access to public."

There has been increasing concern in Bangalore in recent years that the city is turning into a haven for terrorists and gangsters. Newcomers blend easily into the urban fabric of the city, one of Asia's fastest growing.

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