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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

IM, Rohingya outfit under scanner for Bodh Gaya blasts

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Bodh Gaya, July 09, 2013
First Published: 00:41 IST(9/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:40 IST(9/7/2013)

Home-grown terror outfit Indian Mujahideen and radicals among Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims are under the scanner for the series of blasts that rocked Mahabodhi Temple and nearby areas in Bodh Gaya on Sunday even as the lone “suspect” in the case failed to yield much.

Poor quality of the footage of the 16 functional CCTVs installed in one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines has complicated the job of the investigators still looking for a breakthrough.

“The suspicion is on IM as it had issued a threat earlier also, but we are exploring all angles,” a senior NIA official told HT in Bodh Gaya.

Sources in Intelligence Bureau claimed their interest in Myanmar’s Arakan region grew after the R&AW sent inputs about the return of the two founders of the Rohingya Solidarity Association (RSO) — a welfare organisation that has turned militant — to the region in early January.

Arakanese and Rohingya Muslims have clashed a number of times. Animosity toward the Muslim group is widespread among Arakanese, many of whom consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

NSG and NIA experts at Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodh Gaya on Monday, a day after serial blasts in the temple. PTI Photo

“The founders of the outfit -- Maulana Anwar and Dr Younus -- were away to London and Saudi Arabia to create financial channels and to arrange funding,” said an official.

Intelligence reports talk of one Nur Bashar, a Pakistan-based al Qaeda operative, visiting Bangaldesh this year to train Rohingya cadre in bomb-making.

NSG experts at Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodh Gaya on July 8, 2013, a day after serial blasts rocked the temple. PTI Photo

Counter-terror investigators found that 13 improvised explosive devices –- three of them didn’t go off -- were used in the Sunday’s blast. Each of the 13 LPG cylinders weighed 2.5 kg and was packed with 2kg of ammonium nitrate and detonators. A team of the National Security Guard, which picked up samples from the area, has sent its report to the home ministry. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/7/09_07_13-metro1b.gif

Cheap analogue clocks of Lotus brand were used as timers, with labels in Urdu and English stuck on cylinders identifying the places they were meant for.

The IM used gas cylinders in 2008 Ahmedabad blasts.Terrorists were able to sneak in 13 bombs weighing nearly 65 kg in to the temple complex without being noticed though 22 police and anti-insurgency force personnel were on security duty, sources told HT.

A bag containing saffron monk robes, a knife, electrical tape were recovered with a voter I-card and diary of one Vinod Mistry from the complex.  “The NIA also interrogated him, but Mistry says he lost his I-card three days ago and did not know how it reached the temple,” Gaya SSP Ganesh Kumar said.

Foreign Buddhist monks offer prayers for peace at Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya on July 8, 2013, a day after serial explosions at the temple. PTI Photo

While investigators have sent teams to IM’s hotbed of Darbhanga, there is no conclusive proof despite the fact that arrested operatives Asad Khan and Syed Maqbool told interrogators last October that the outfit’s founder Riyaz Bhatkal had asked them to target Mahabodhi temple to avenge sectarian violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. It is known that Lashkar is training the radical elements among the Rohingya Muslims.

Tehsim Akhtar of Darbhanga, an aide of IM group leader Yasin Bhatkal, who has been absconding since Chinnaswamy stadium blast in Bangalore is a suspect.

(With inputs from Jatin Anand, Arun Kumar, Ruchir Kumar)

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