Bodh Gaya: The evening after terror struck the Mahabodhi in Bodh Gaya, the faithful were back as the shrine reopened to the public on Monday. Buddhist monks from 50 countries held a special prayer inside the temple for return of peace after the 10 explosions that left two injured there.
Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar and other countries participated in the one-hour prayer on Monday evening, Arvind Singh, member of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), said. Tourists and media were allowed to take part in the prayers.
The shrine has not suffered much damage in the serial blasts. The tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment also is safe.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said as many as 13 bombs were planted of which ten had exploded and three live bombs defused. On Sunday, it was stated that nine explosions rocked the area.
No leads from CCTV footage so far
As the temple returns to normalcy, a probe into Sunday's blasts is underway. Investigators groped for definite leads from the CCTV footage of the serial explosions even as they detained a man, with suspected Indian Mujahideen links, in connection with the terror attack.
The police released CCTV footage of the bombings that rocked Bodh Gaya. Sources say no major leads have come out yet from the CCTV footage. The Bihar Police claims it has identified at least three suspects indulging in suspicious activities, but no arrests have been made so far.
Meanwhile, officials say the bombs weren't crude bombs. The National Security Guard team has submitted a report to the Home Ministry. Forensic analysis of the unexploded bombs has identified the company which made the clock used as a timer. Investigators say that the explosives used in the blasts appear to be a mix of ammonium nitrate, sulphur and potassium. Police say it is possible that the first blast disturbed the mechanisms in other bombs which went off.
Culprits will be brought to justice: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar
Condemning the terror attack that struck the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya on Monday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his government has taken the incident "very seriously and will make sure that the culprit is brought to justice". Nitish said though it was the first serial blast that took place in Bihar, the reaction time of the officials was not delayed. "Every official reached the blast site without any delay," he said.
Admitting that he had intelligence inputs on a probable terror attack on the Mahabodhi temple, the Janata Dal United leader said actions were taken by the concerned officers to increase the security of the site.
Nitish said he has sought CISF security for the Mahabodhi temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. "Until the CISF takes over the security of the temple, Bihar Police will protest it," he added. He further said that his government is planning to prepare an anti-terror squad in the state.
Politics over Mahabodhi blasts
In just a day after the blasts in Bodh Gaya, political parties started the war of words, politicising the issue. Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh denied playing politics over terror saying the BJP started it. He also questioned as to why BJP leaders were targeting specific groups even before the probe was over.
He said that by blaming the Nitish Kumar government for the Mahabodhi temple blasts, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was politicising the issue. "Immediately after the blasts, both Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy blamed Nitish Kumar. Aren't they politicising the issue?" Singh asked. He added that political parties and media should restrain from "jumping to conclusions and should allow the NIA to complete its investigation".
The Congress leader also slammed the media and alleged that it was reporting unsubstantiated information in Ishrat Jahan encounter and the Mahabodhi temple blasts cases. "Let the investigation complete because only then the culprits will be chargesheeted and punished," Singh said while speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai.
Singh also rubbished the charge that he linked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. "I have never linked Modi to the Ishrat case," he said while insisting the he has always been wrongly accused of politicising issues. Singh, however, promised to show much more restrain in his statements in the future.
Meanwhile, the BJP has hit back at Singh saying "Congress is using its energy to target political opponents when it should be used to combat terrorism". "Some people in Congress are acting as spokespersons for terrorists," BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar alleged that the BJP and the RJD are hand in gloves as both the parties criticised the state government on the serial blasts that rocked the temple town of Bodh Gaya on Sunday.
"Some understanding between the BJP and RJD will be internal and some will be visible," said Janata Dal United leader Nitish.
"The BJP was thrown out of power, so they want to form an alliance. They are holding talks with the RJD to form an unholy nexus in Bihar," he said.
The BJP attacked the Bihar government over security lapse and said, "If there were intelligence reports then why no action was taken by state government."
Calling the terror attack as the biggest failure of the Nitish Kumar government, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said, "No terror attack took place in Bihar during his regime."
Mahabodhi temple blasts linked to attacks on Rohingya Muslims?
There are concerns about whether there is a Myanmar link to the Mahabodhi temple blasts in Bodh Gaya. The Rohingya Muslims clashing with the Buddhist majority there has been exploited by several terrorist groups including al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Intelligence Bureau sources say they had sent an intelligence alert warning months ago of threats to Buddhist temples. The threat was raised after groups including Hafiz Saeed's LeT, al Qaeda, Indonesian Jehadi terror groups issued statements calling for attacks on Buddhists and Myanmar embassies to protest against attacks on Muslim villages in Myanmar that have left more than 10,000 dead, with about 1,50,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing to countries like Thailand, Bangladesh and India.
Police say it's too early to be sure of any link between Myanmar's Muslims and the Bodh Gaya blasts. But early leads have certainly put the spotlight on Rohingya Muslims and how their plight has been used to radicalise Islamist groups worldwide.
(With additional information from PTI)National security is too important to be politicised, Rajdeep Sardesai on Bodh Gaya blasts