Bodh Gaya serial blasts: Probe on, Mahabodhi temple to reopen today

The Mahabodhi temple will reopen for public on Monday evening even as the NIA, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and forensic experts continued with their probe into the serial blasts at the world famous religious site of Bodh Gaya in Bihar.

Zee Media Bureau

Bodh Gaya: The Mahabodhi temple will reopen for public on Monday evening even as the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and forensic experts continued with their probe into the serial blasts at the world famous religious site of Bodh Gaya in Bihar.

The five-member NIA team comprising a DIG and two SPs reached here Sunday evening by a special plane from New Delhi and went straight to the Mahabodhi temple to start investigations.

CCTV footage released

The CCTV footage of the serial blasts that rocked the temple town yesterday was also released by the investigators this morning. Based on their initial investigation, the investigators suspect that the bomb was planted in the temple premises between 2am to 4am in cover of darkness.

The local police yesterday detained one person in connection with Sunday’s serial blasts at the Mahabodhi temple.

DIG, Magadh Range, Nayyer Hasnain Khan said an identity card was found within the temple premises yesterday on the basis of which the person was detained.

The NIA, Khan said, was interrogating him.

“One suspect hailing from Barachatti block in Gaya has been detained and we are questioning him. We have been analysing the footage and based on that some more people would be questioned soon," a senior Bihar police official said.

"All the CCTV cameras in the Mahabodhi temple premises were fully functional. As you must have seen in the CCTV footage, both state security personnel and temple`s own security personnel were present. I don`t think there was any lapse on security front," the official said.

Ammonium nitrate, sulphur and potassium used in bombs

Preliminary forensic analysis of the unexploded bombs recovered from the blast sites shows that the explosives used in the bombs were a mix of ammonium nitrate, sulphur and potassium.

The firm that made the clock which was used as a timer in the bombs has also been identified.

No security lapse: Bihar police

Bihar Police, while rejecting allegations that the CCTV cameras installed at the temple site were not working, said that there were no lapses in the security.

Following an advisory by the government, security of all states with Buddhist population and sites has also been increased.

Terror struck the world renowned religious site of Bodh Gaya, Bihar in the early hours on Sunday as a series of nine explosions in and around the famous Mahabodhi temple left two monks injured.
The 1500-year-old temple, which is a UNESCO World heritage site, and the Bodhi Tree, under which Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment, did not suffer any damage in the blasts which shook the holy town frequented by Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and the whole of southeast Asia.

The NIA team has been told by the local investigators that as many as four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi temple, while three occurred at Karmapa monastery and one each near the famous 80-ft Buddha statue and under a tourist bus.

Two live bombs were also recovered later in the day on Sunday, while a third was found near Bodh Gaya`s Baiju Bigaha area late Sunday afternoon.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who rushed to the blast site from Patna, about 100 kms from Gaya, demanded deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for security of the shrine.

However, no group has claimed responsibility for what the Centre and state government have described as a terror attack in a region where Maoists have a strong foothold.

In 2012, the Delhi Police claimed to have foiled a `fidayeen` attack in the town with the arrest of suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) elements to avenge "atrocities" against Muslims in Myanmar.
Security agencies suspect that IM may be behind Sunday`s multiple blasts.

Sources said that even the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had issued an alert in June of a possible attack on the Mahabodhi temple.

Bihar Police chief Abhayanand said no harm has come to the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Buddhist temple, but some peripheral damage has occurred.

Asked why the blasts could not be averted even after an alert by IB, the state`s top policeman said security was increased after the inputs were received but added "every incident is a learning experience".

However, Delhi Police claimed it had alerted its Bihar counterpart and intelligence agencies about Bodh Gaya temple being on the radar of terror outfits.

According to the police, IM operatives had told them that they were planning Pune-like blasts in Delhi and Bihar for which they had specifically spent around two weeks doing a recce of the temple town.

The officer also said that a team of Delhi Police is planning to visit Bodh Gaya to share the information it had received from IM operatives with the security agencies investigating the blasts.

BJP and other opposition parties accused the Centre and the Bihar government of having failed to take steps to avert the terror strike at the Mahabodhi temple despite specific warnings of intelligence agencies.

(With PTI inputs)