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Bodh Gaya bomb blasts

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Sunday morning, July 7, began with an act of terrorism: a series of low-intensity bomb blasts in the temple complex in Bodh Gaya, reputedly the site where Gautama became the Buddha. Media reports have settled down to a description of 9 blasts and 2 monks injured, after initial misreports. Terrorists try to justify their criminal acts by linking them to causes which may be entirely legitimate. In this case one already begins to suspect what it will be. Two buddhist majority countries in India’s neighbourhood have been involved in sectarian violence which have led to mainstream political protests in India: one is the massacre of Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka not long back, and the other is the ongoing military operations against Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

IBN-Live reported the attack:

Two Buddhist monks were injured Sunday in a string of bombings at Bihar’s 1,500-year old Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya where the Buddha attained enlightenment, police said.

The first bomb went off at about 5.15 a.m. and it was followed by a series of blasts, triggering panic. The bombings lasted about half an hour.

“Eight blasts took place early Sunday, including two near the Bodhi tree inside the temple compound,” Additional Director General of Police S.K. Bhardwaj told IANS over telephone.

Bhardwaj said that two Buddhist monks were injured — one a Tibetan and the other Myanmarese.

“Injured Tibetan is identified as Tenzing Dorjee, 50, and the injured Myanmarese is Vilas Ga, 30,” Bhardwaj said.

The blasts did not cause any damage to the temple and the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment, a police officer told IANS over telephone from Bodh Gaya in Gaya district, located about 110 km from here.

The temple at Bodh Gaya was built at the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002.

The Mahabodhi temple is one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India and has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries.

IBN-Live has a running time line of developments.

ET reports:

Serial explosions inside and outside Mahabodhi temple in Bihar were a terror attack, the Home Ministry said today as it sent NIA and NSG teams for post-blasts investigations.

“It was a terror attack,” Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told PTI.

He, however, said so far no group has claimed responsibility for the multiple blasts and investigations were on.

TOI extensively quoted local authorities:

Additional director general of police (Law and Order) SK Bhardwaj said prima facie it seems the serial blasts have been done by some terrorist organisation.

The ADG said that there was a general alert about possibility of terrorist attacks in Bihar and the state police had tightened security.

“At Bodh Gaya temple, the police security arrangements are only outside the temple while the security inside is looked after by temple trust officials,” he said.

“A team of NIA officers is coming to Bodh Gaya from Kolkata,” DIG special branch Parasnath said.

The DIG said, “The sanctum sanctorum of the Mahabodhi Temple is intact. The temple premises have been sanitised.”

“In the first blast which took place near the Bodhi tree, a table was blown up because of which two persons were injured. The second blast, I think, was inside the enclosure where books were kept. The furniture was damaged but there was no damage to the monuments or statues,” [secretary of the Bodh Gaya committee Dorji] said.

Asked about the nature of explosives used, S K Bharadwaj, ADG (Law and Order) said they were low intensity time bombs.

He said, “We got information about six-seven months back that there may be a terror attack on the Mahabodhi temple. After that we had beefed up secuirty and deployed extra forces”.

The BJP, which started its election campaign in Bihar and Ayodhya yesterday, lost no time in polticizing the issue, Firstpost reports:

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP spokesperson, who placed the blame squarely on the Nitish government which he accused of participating in “appeasement politics” rather than taking care of law and order. “This was a low-intensity but professional blast…Since the BJP has gone out of power, the law and order situation has gone back to the Lalu days,” asserted Rudy. “The central government is also ineffective.”

The political background also involves the story of the management of the temple. Last weekend IE had reported:

Sixty-four years after it was framed, Bihar is set to change the controversial Bodhgaya Temple Act, 1949 that provides for a Hindu majority in the managing committee of the Mahabodhi Mahavira, the most sacred Buddhist place of worship.

Buddhists have been demanding full control over the shrine for years. The managing committee consists of eight members, four Buddhists and four Hindus. The Hindus are part of the committee because there is a Shiva temple within the precincts of the first century Buddhist structure.

The Gaya district magistrate is the ex officio chairman of the panel while other members are nominated. What has been deemed ultra vires of the Constitution by many legal experts is a provision that empowers the state government to nominate a Hindu as the chairman of the committee if the DM of Gaya is not a Hindu.

In his letter to the minority panel chief Wajahat Habibullah, Kamal Narayan Singh, joint secretary, home department, wrote: “Bihar is a secular state. The post of DM doesn’t relate to any caste, religion or community. Therefore the amendment of the Bodhgaya Temple Act is necessary for the sake of secularism by deleting the proviso of sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act. This amendment is under consideration before the state and counter affidavits have been filed by the state of Bihar with respect to both writ petitions in the Supreme Court.”

DNA reports:

The two Buddhist monks from Tibet and Myanmar injured in serial blasts in Bihar’s Bodh Gaya town this morning were undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Gaya and their condition was stated to be out of danger.

The Delhi police disgraced itself in the aftermath of December’s rape, and claimed more than it could prove in the brouhaha over match-fixing in the IPL a couple of months back. Now, the Hindu reports that it claims to have had information about this conspiracy all the time:

“We will be sending a team to Bodh Gaya to share the information provided by the arrested IM operatives who had planned to carry out serial blasts in the temple,” a senior Delhi Police officer told IANS here.

The officer added that they had alerted intelligence agencies and Bihar Police about a possible terror attack in the state.

“We had shared the inputs with intelligence agencies and Bihar Police about a possible terror attack,” the police officer said.

According to police, the IM operatives had informed them that they had spent 15 days in Bihar doing a recce of the temple.

In 2012, Delhi Police had busted a group of IM terrorists which carried out serial blasts in Pune. They had planned similar attacks in Delhi and Bodh Gaya too.

The arrested IM terrorists in the Pune blast case were identified as Syed Makbul, Irfan, Imran and Asad.

Zee News reports:

Hours after a series of nine blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, sketches of two suspected perpetrators involved were released on Sunday. Meanwhile, there were reports of another live bomb being detected in between two hotels in Bodh Gaya.

Addressing a press conference, Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Abhayanand said that the security around the temple had been further stepped up, even as the prayers continued there. He, however, added that the temple would not be open for the public as of now.

July 9, 2013

Z News reported:

The Centre on Tuesday handed over Bodh Gaya blasts case probe to National Investigation Agency (NIA).

HT reported:

Two days after the serial bomb blasts in Bodh Gaya, Patna police acting on directives from central agencies on Tuesday picked up four persons from different localities in the city.

The four suspects have been identified as Anand Prakash, Gunjan Patel, Hassan Mallik and Priyanka.

Sources said, the two women and men, all in their early twenties, were present at Bodh Gaya on Sunday morning and had checked out of Tathaghat Hotel at 6am in the morning, just minutes after the serial blasts took place.

“The CCTV footage has snapped them ‘moving in a suspicious manner inside the temple premises in the wee hours. It’s circumstantial evidence which we are working on,” said a senior police officer, seeking anonymity. Mobile records of the four have also been scanned.

A team of Gaya police also assisted the Patna police in picking up the four persons, who were being interrogated at an undisclosed location, sources said.

July 11, 2013

TOI reports:

The Twitter handle @IndianMujahidin sent out the warning to Mumbai on July 6. It followed that up by claiming responsibility for the explosions at the Buddhist site in Bihar in a tweet on July 7, almost 12 hours after the explosive devices placed inside the temple complex had gone off.

Sources in Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the home ministry in Delhi told TOI that the person using the Twitter handle @IndianMujahidin had uploaded the messages from somewhere in Pakistan. “Our probe has established that the tweets originated in Pakistan. We cannot pinpoint the exact city or location at this point of time since we have not got a detailed report from the microblogging firm,” a senior source in Maharashtra ATS said.

The Pakistan origin of the tweets was also confirmed by home ministry sources and the Information Technology department in Delhi.

Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 7, 2013 at 6:16 am

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