The Garden City is also known by two more monikers. One, it's the IT City. And second, it is the Education Hub, next only to Delhi in the number of educational institutes among India's cities. So, where and how do people like Mohammad Haneef and Kafeel Ahmad fit in? The question is baffling moderate Muslim organizations as well as the administration.
So much so that the moderate Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) has started a campaign across campuses against narrow interpretation of religion. "We are holding regular seminars and interfaces with other religions to understand each other better. Students from our community are often swayed by wrong interpretation of the Quran. They forget that certain things were applicable in a different period, in a different way and for completely different reasons," says SIO secretary Ateequr Rahman. An engineer and MBA, he says his organization's plan of action is aimed at countering religious instigation.
A sudden radicalization of campuses in Bangalore is largely due to an influx of students from Gulf and West Asian countries. "Earlier, these students preferred European countries, but now that is changing. The world of disgruntled elements and restless minds is not only finding common platform on the Internet but also campuses here," says Rahman. "We need to keep a close watch on the students," says state home minister MP Prakash. However, he does not know how the government can do that.
On the other hand, educationists blame the government. "It seems that Kafeel wanted to punish the West. But more importantly, he was already indoctrinated in Bangalore before he went to the UK," says MS Thimmappa, former vice chancellor, Bangalore University. "Pro-al-Qaeda elements in the UK spotted Kafeel because he shared the perceived Arab anger with terror ideologues".
Not the best of situations for peace, admits Ateequr. "We are branching out to IITs and IIMs as they have the best brains that can be and are likely to be targeted", he says.