Almost eight months after the serial blasts at Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, the protection of the Buddhist shrine is yet to be handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that guards vital installations across the country.
“The CISF conducted a survey of the temple immediately after the July 7 serial blasts and mentioned its requirements – equipments, number of men to guard the site and the facilities for stationing them there – but somehow the immediacy lost steam. The Bihar government will have to fund the equipments and deployment cost but it is yet to get back with its final view,” a senior home ministry official said.
According to CISF rules, a contingent’s salary is reimbursed by the installation authorities, whether it’s a public sector unit or a state government. A memorandum of understanding to this effect is signed between the CISF and the protectee authority.
After the Bodh Gaya serial blasts, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had requested for CISF security at the temple. Though guarding religious places is not part of the CISF charter, but the then bonhomie between Nitish and the Centre had ensured that the MHA agreed to the request.
Since Taj Mahal and Red Fort are guarded by CISF as monuments of national importance, it was considered to add Bodh Gaya to the list as a world heritage site. The CISF was not enthusiastic about the proposal since Shirdi temple in Maharashtra and Tirupati Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh were also asking the CISF cover.
“Once we start providing security to religious places, there will be no end to such demands. Ideally, we should not get into it,” said a CISF official on the condition of anonymity.