Staff Reporter

The tight security drove away any sense of fear in public mind

Upmarket areas saw the usual number of shoppers Newer malls and multiplexes had the usual crowds

Bangalore: The city woke up to a reassuring SMS sent by the Police Commissioner.

There were no untoward incidents overnight and the rumours about explosives planted in different places were just that. Please do not heed rumours and there was no need to panic, the message said.

With seven anonymous calls on Friday about explosives being planted in IT firms and educational institutions, the police were on their toes; the calls turned out to be a hoax. Many people had also received SMS on their mobile phones about an impending "suicide bomb" attack, naming different locations.

While some panic and a lot of anxiety were created because of the calls, most Bangaloreans did not let it really dampen their spirits on the last day of 2005. They exhibited a degree of resilience and began going about their normal activities, like buying a new dress for a New Year party, going to a hairdresser or buying a last minute gift for a loved one.

The hoax calls on Friday took many by surprise, and those badly affected were those in software firms and BPOs. For many, it was a long wait outside the premises till the managements decided to close for the day, willing to take no chances. Among those waiting in front of one IT firm was a young man who had to leave for the U.S. on a project on Sunday and his travel documents and air tickets were inside the offices and inaccessible. For many others it was a long trek back home, because they were asked to leave their vehicles behind. An explosive could have been planted in a parked vehicle.

On Saturday, the upmarket stores along Mahatma Gandhi Road, Brigade Road and Commercial Street saw the usual numbers of shoppers. The newer malls and multiplexes had the usual crowds. Nobody really thought about the possibility that such crowded places could be vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The immediate shock and dismay after Wednesday's incident had within days given way to an assurance that the law enforcement and intelligence agencies were methodically going about their work. The city police appeared determined to see that public safety was not compromised in any way.

The large police pickets, including personnel armed with automatic and semi-automatic firearms, and their presence all across the crowded business and entertainment areas, added to this feeling of security.