NIA takes over Bodh Gaya probe
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.
Senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah on Thursday ruled out any "political relationship" between his party and the JD(S) either during the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls or the 2023 Assembly elections in Karnataka. His statement gains significance, as none of the three parties has an adequate number of votes to win the fourth Rajya Sabha seat from the State Assembly. The last date of filing nominations is May 31.
Rajasthan minister Ashok Chandna has sought to be relieved of his duties while calling chief minister Ashok Gehlot's principal secretary Kuldeep Ranka as the “minister of all departments”. In a tweet in Hindi on Thursday, Chandna said, “Honourable chief minister, I have a personal request for you…relieve me of this dishonourable ministerial post. The charge of all my departments should be given to Kuldeep Ranka because he is the minister of all departments. Thank you.”
Deputy commissioner of police (central) Shweta Chauhan said the investigators checked over 500 videos of CCTV footage from the area, and examined more than 100 people. Of these, some were identified as suspects and technical surveillance was launched against them, based on which the three were arrested on Thursday, she added.
An official from the LG’s office said Vinai Kumar Saxena stopped at around 20 spots during the visit and asked the officials concerned to clean the area wherever he spotted garbage. “The LG directed the officials concerned to take action towards ensuring symmetry in city infrastructure including roads, footpaths, streetlights and signage,” Saxena’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
Haryana home minister Anil Vij on Thursday checked the challaning activity at a police nakka near Mohra village on NH-44 in Ambala Cantonment. BJP seeks property tax waiver for UT colonies, villages Chandigarh BJP president Arun Sood on Thursday met UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit and sought exemption from property tax at Chandigarh's EWS colonies and villages. A cheating case has been registered against Harish Mittu. The complaint said they were cheated of ₹1.04 crore.