Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday said the identity of perpetrators of the nine low-intensity serial blasts, in which two Buddhist monks sustained injuries, would be established only after the National Investigating Agency (NIA) completed its probe.
The chief minister, however, skirted reporters’ queries as to whether the serial blasts testified to a lapse in security of the complex. “After today’s incident the security set up will be reviewed and strengthened”, was all he said.
He, however, admitted the intelligence bureau (IB) and other security agencies had alerted the state government about the Mahabodhi temple complex being in terror crosshairs.
“Alerts had been received earlier on the threat, following which CCTVs had been installed in the complex”, Kumar told reporters soon after surveying the temple complex in the aftermath of the serial blasts at world heritage site.
The CM who air dashed to Bodh Gaya early Sunday morning after the first blast was set off at 5.02 am and timed to cause maximum damage and chaos at morning prayer time, vowed that "The people involved in it will be brought to book".
He said, "It is a major concern, that whoever was involved could get past the security perimeter and plant the bombs within the main temple complex, though not within the temple itself. I assure strict action against the perpetrators. The investigations will be through and clinical", he added after examining the damage.
Condemning the blasts, the Bihar chief minister expressed confidence, that the culprits would be caught and punished at the earliest.
Home secretary Amir Subhani, DGP Abhyanand and an IB joint director accompanied the chief minister during the trip.
Kumar also confirmed four blasts took place inside the temple complex, one at the base of a 80-feet-tall statue close to the complex at three near a school inside the Terega monastry, the abode the 17th Karmapa during his visits to Bodh Gaya.
On his return to Patna from Bodh Gaya after inspecting the Mahabodhi temple blast site, Kumar said, the NIA and local police would probe the incident and expose the conspiracy and designs of those behind the attack.
“But it is clear that the serial blasts at the famous Buddhist shrine and surrounding areas were carried out to create fear among the pilgrims and divide the society,” he added.
Kumar said, till the NIA took over the serial blasts probe, the Bihar police were carrying out a “scientific investigation” into the case. “Forensic experts are already there at blast sites”, he added.
The chief minister said, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) would be deployed for fool-proof security around the shrine. “CISF is the top security force and best suited to protect the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya,” he said.
Kumar, however, dismissed suggestions that there was any security lapse despite an intelligence tip-off and said adequate precautionary measures were taken to beef up security measures at the Mahabodhi temple and surrounding areas in the wake of intelligence inputs.
Expressing sorrow and shock at the blasts, Kumar said that the blasts deserved condemnation in the strongest possible words as the perpetrators targeted a place of religious faith of crores of people with an aim to create fear among them.
The temple would open again soon for pilgrims and tourists, he added.
The chief minister’s visit to the temple complex was marred by protest demonstration led by Gaya BJP MP Hari Manjhi and Gaya Town MLA Prem Kumar, till recently urban development minister in the Nitish government. Both the leaders were among those who were taken in custody.