Remnants of an exploded bomb were found and another one was defused 1.5 km west of the Bodh Gaya temple complex on Monday, even as the NIA and NSG joined state police investigations into the serial bomb blasts which took place on Sunday. The recovery of two bombs took the number of explosions to 10 while three unexploded bombs were recovered.
The connection of blasts to Buddhist-dominated Myanmar’s crackdown on Rohingiya Muslims is being investigated. Bodh Gaya has a Myanmar monastery which is often visited by tourists and military brass from the country.
A suspect identified as Vinod Mistri from the Maoist-affected Barachatti area was detained on the basis of an Aadhar card found among the debris. He was being interrogated by the central agencies while look-out notices have been issued for six people who were identified from the CCTV footage.
Gaya SSP, Chandan Kushwaha, confirmed that 16 of the 22 CCTV’s were functional and their recordings can provide crucial leads. However, none of the blasts took place in the direct view of the cameras, revealing bombers may have been aware of camera locations.
While confirming the use of ammonium nitrate and analog timers in the bombs, DGP Abhayanand said further investigation depends on what the central agencies find. The NSG investigators have reported to MHA that ammonium nitrate, potassium and sulphur were used with projectiles, shrapnel and analog timers. Small LPG cyclinders were used as bomb carriers. The analog clocks carried the brand name ‘Lotus’ and their manufacturer has been identified.
Investigators found nails and ball-bearings packed into the bombs, a common practice of the Indian Mujahideen as well as Maoists. However, investigators admitted to have been stumped by why blasts happened early in the morning when causalities were bound to be less and why LPG cylinders were used. It is significant that one bomb was planted in a stationary bus, timed to go off before dawn when no passengers would have been there.
Also, IM, which in other cases has eagerly claimed responsibility, has chosen to stay silent this time.
The NSG team has revealed that all the bombs were timed to go off at 5.30 am but they went off early, perhaps due to the damp weather.
Also, the forensic team’s preliminary report said that the first blast at the temple complex might have significantly interfered with the other IED’s, altering their time and blast yields. It said the devices were “crude but significantly sophisticated and primed for larger damage”.
The ease with which the bombs were planted despite a three-tier security system clearly sends the message that extremists can attack at will. There were reports that chits of paper have also been recovered which mention the names of blast sites in Urdu.
The NIA team, lead by Vikas Vaibhav, has confirmed the blasts happened within 25 minutes of each other. The team is also examining three Cheevers, wind cheaters worn by Buddhist monks, which were found abandoned at the temple premises after the blasts.
The local police is also looking for three persons who were working around the temple complex for the last six months and are now absconding. Their backgrounds were not vetted by any agency in the area.
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The Bodh Gaya temple was opened for public on Monday with thousands of people standing in queue.
"The visitors are allowed to enter the temple after thorough search by Bihar police and temple management committee security staff," Arvind Singh, member of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), said.
Thousands of people thronged to the temple immediately after the gate was open at 6 PM, he said.
Monks of 50 nations hold special prayer
Buddhist monks from 50 countries on Monday held a special prayer inside the temple for return of peace after the explosions.
Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar and other countries participated in the one-hour prayer this evening, Arvind Singh, member of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), said.
Head of monasteries of different countries also attended the prayer.
The Bodh Gaya has Buddhist monasteries of 50 countries.
Singh, who took part in the prayer, said the temple remained open for monks and would be opened for general public today.
Injured monks out of danger
The condition of the two monks, who were injured in the explosions, is stated to be out of danger.
"Both of them are out of danger," Superintendent of Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College & Hospital (ANMMCH), Gaya, Sita Ram Prasad said.
He said both had been kept in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital and senior doctors were attending them.
Prasad said the Tibetan monk Tenzing Dorjee had received bomb injuries in right knee joint and right ankle.
The second monk Vilas Ga from Myanmar suffered wounds in right arm, abdomen and both legs, the ANMMCH Superintendent said.
One detained by NIA
One person was detained by the NIA on Monday in connection with the terror attack on Buddhism's holiest shrine here even as authorities released the CCTV footage of the serial blasts at the historic Mahabodhi temple and adjoining areas.
As a team of investigators from NIA, NSG and other agencies searched for clues at Bodh Gaya that left two monks injured and chief minister Nitish Kumar said the state government will make a proposal to the Centre to ask CISF to take over the security of the shrine.
'Govt lacks will to combat terror'
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has condemned the terror attack at the Mahabodhi temple and said terrorists were succeeding because the government lacked the will to decisively deal with them.
RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya, in a statement, said the need of the hour was to deal decisively with terrorism.
"RSS condemns in strongest terms the explosions carried out by terrorists at the Bodh Gaya temple of Lord Buddha, who was the harbinger of universal peace and who gave the world the message of peace, compassion and non-violence," the statement said.
"(As a result of) The lack of will on the part of the government to deal conclusively with the activities of terrorists with a heavy hand, the terrorists are succeeding in their nefarious designs. The need of the hour is for all to rise above partisan politics to deal with this menace decisively," it added.
With inputs frpm HT, PTI, IANS