The oft-quoted phrase ‘terror has no religion’ has been proved right once again with the attack on the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, one of the holiest shrines for Buddhists. Attacks on religious places, especially during hours of worship, have become a favourite modus operandi for terrorists.
Whether in Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan, terrorists have often struck when the faithful have been at prayer, though in the Mahabodhi case, mercifully there have been no casualties so far. Even before the forensics has been gathered, the political bunfight has begun. Links are being drawn between the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar to the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed’s call to defend Muslims in Myanmar to the Indian Mujahideen.
Such links may well exist but it is a little too early perhaps to come to definite conclusions. But what is worrying is that the Delhi Police special cell had warned of a terror attack on the holy place, warnings which the security agencies with their customary cavalier attitude ignored.
Even after the event, the National Security Guard (NSG)took 12 long hours to reach the site as inclement weather hampered their progress. At one time, there was talk of the NSG setting up hubs across the country but we are yet to find out what happened to that.
The temple authorities, aware of the danger, had private security but that does not seem to have been enough to deter the attack. Instead of waiting for all the facts to emerge, Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the state BJP have declared that they will observe a bandh. Since such a move cannot help determine the culprits or prevent such attacks in future we can only assume that this is a purely political move aimed at embarrassing the Nitish Kumar government.
Both the RJD and the BJP have been smarting to settle scores with the JD(U) and they see this as the perfect opportunity. It is not enough to swing into action once the deed is done. And even in this, the security agencies don’t seem to have done a very good job. While it is imperative that chief minister Nitish Kumar demonstrate his concern and resolve to bring the culprits to book, it was a little disturbing to see him and his officials standing right in the middle of the debris which constitutes forensic evidence. The area ought to have been cordoned off at once and not hours later after people have trampled all over the place.
If a coordinated response system had been in place, and it should have been given the frequency of terror attacks, then the confusion that we see now could have been minimised. And most certainly, those in positions of power should help by letting the appropriate agencies do their work instead of floating conspiracy theories which have, at the moment, no basis at all. This incident should, at least, impress upon the authorities that it is better to err on the side of caution than be caught flat-footed yet again.