The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday formally took over probe into the Bodh Gaya serial blasts by re-registering three FIRs filed the Bihar police in connection with attack on the Buddhist shrine.
The agency has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for providing any information with regard to the attack.
Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who visited the shrine on Wednesday along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the central agencies investigating the serial bomb blasts at Mahabodhi Temple complex, last Sunday, were pursuing several leads including the use of gas cyclinders, which indicated a local connect to the blasts.
On the issue of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) security cover the Mahabodhi complex, Shinde said the home ministry is looking into the demand made by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. But there similar demands pending from Maharashta government with regard to Sai Mandir at Shirdi.
“Both states have said they will pay for it. We need to examine it as the CISF has a limited role. We are considering the requests," Shinde said.
Confirming HT’s report on Wednesday, Shinde said the investigation and intelligence agencies are actively looking into the issue.
Sources said a request has been sent to the US seeking details from the Twitter about the account holder.
According to the home minister, of the 13 bombs placed at the site Sunday morning, 10 went off between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. "It seems small gas cylinders weighing two to three kg were used, and they contained nails and ball bearings. Initial investigation shows that the bombs were placed in the night and three or four people could be involved," he said.
"Until the leads are followed up comprehensively, analysed and facts are put together, nothing could be said with a finality", Shinde said, “We are investigating from all angles. But we are not in a hurry to make any arrests till we have adequate reason to do so”.
Shinde, who was flanked by the UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi and party leader Ambika Soni, said, "The use of cyclinders does throw up a local angle to the blasts".
Shinde arrived at the Bodh Gaya airport at around 11am with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and drove straight to the Temple Complex , where he was briefed on the status of the ongoing investigations by the NIA and the NSG besides state police brass. He also said, "It was obvious from the findings so far, that the bombs were planted in cyclinders at night time".
"Our goal is to pinpoint what happened and reach the actual perpetrators of this heinous incident and not to apportion blame on one or the other before arriving at a conclusion", he added.
He said, the probe teams will definitely work on how the security of the temple was breached despite issue of alerts to the Bihar government.
"We are looking into it. Several alerts were issued, the last one being on July 3, following which the Magadh range DIG, had reviewed the security of the complex and issued instructions", the home minister said, adding, "We are watchful and have not ruled out any angle to the bombings".
He said, "The issue is complex. It could have been carried out by anyone: terror groups, Naxalites. There are other issues such as communal disturbances to mind. That's why the Union rushed in both the NIA and the NSG. The NIA is on par with CBI, but specially tasked to look into terror issues", he said.
As to the other specifics of the investigations, Shinde said: "We are looking into how cylinder bombs were planted at the sites and that despite alerts. We have to nab the actual people. We will go into all details", he said.
Meanwhile, the NIA announced a bounty of Rs 10 lakh to persons who can provide leads for the capture of those involved in the blasts, even as the Bihar Police released four of the suspects, including a woman, who had been picked up from Patna in connection with the blasts late evening yesterday.
"There was nothing to implicate them and we are satisfied with their replies during interrgotaion. There is no more to it", said Gaya SP Ganesh Kumar.
The central agencies looking into various aspects of the bomb blasts have raised the issue of lax security on the Temple premises, wondering why CCTV footages were not monitored from a control room, or why no guards were placed at entry points.
They have found, there was no frisking of visitors and that, the men who planted the bombs might have used a ladder to climb into the campus at night.
The Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee, accepted that armed guards are not allowed on the premises and there is no security as such at night time, except for the Bihar Police, stationed outside the campus.