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2 bombs found in Bodh Gaya amid tight security for Dalai Lama

Investigating officials said Rohingya Muslim groups’ involvement cannot be ruled out.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2018 21:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gaya
Bodh Gaya,Dalai Lama,Bombs found
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama greets his followers at an event in Kalchakra Maidan, in Bodh Gaya on Friday. (PTI Photo)

Security forces recovered late on Friday two powerful live bombs fitted with suspected improvised explosive devices (IED) from near the world-heritage Mahabodhi temple in Bihar’s Bodh Gaya, where Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama is holding religious sessions this month.

The recovery of the two bombs, weighing 10 kg each, from the high-security zone manned by more than 3,000 personnel brought back memories of the serial blasts on July 7,2013 at the same site. A series of 10 bombs had exploded in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex then, injuring five people, including two Buddhists monks.

“The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and the SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) experts are at work to defuse the bombs. We are yet to ascertain other details on the explosives found,” said deputy inspector general of Magadh range Vinay Kumar, confirming the discovery of the two live bombs.

“Other intelligence and investigation teams are arriving at Bodh Gaya to inquire into the incident. But the good thing is that police finally averted a major incident by timely recovering the bombs,” he added. Inspector general of police, Patna Zone, NH Khan said security was tightened in Bodh Gaya.

A statement by the National Investigation Agency Information said a blast had occurred opposite the Kalchakra grounds at 4.45pm on Friday in a flask “kept under a generator at a tea shop/kitchen”.

“The police found some wires coming out. Later searches were conducted in the vicinity by the police and two objects, suspected to be IEDs were recovered,” the statement added. A team of the agency is on its way to the spot.

Bihar director general of police P K Thakur said three suspects have been identified based on CCTV footage. “We have zeroed in on the suspects and trying to get more information about these people so that our investigations go on the right track,” he added.

A month before the scheduled 50-day visit of the Dalai Lama to the holy Buddhist city of Bodh Gaya, intelligence agencies had sounded an alert, asserting that terror groups might try to target the congregation.

Four months ago, suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Taushif Sagir Khan Pathan, the main accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts that killed 56 people, was arrested in Gaya, around 15 kilometers away. Additional director general of police (law and order) Alok Raj said, “Recovery of bombs barely four months after Pathan’s arrest is a serious issue and needs a thorough investigation.”

NIA dispatches team

National Investigation Agency dispatched a team to visit the blast site in Bodh Gaya where the small explosion place in a flask took at a tea shop.

The NIA has dispatched a team including a superintendent of police-ranked officer and an explosives’ expert to the site, the agency spokesperson said in a statement.

“It is said that the blast happened in a flask kept under a generator at a tea shop opposite the ground. The police found some wires coming out. Later, searches were conducted in the vicinity by the police and two objects suspected to be improvised explosive devices were recovered,” the NIA spokesperson said.

He said on receiving the information, a team of NIA officials, including an SP and one explosives’ expert, has been dispacthed to visit the site.

(with inputs from Rajesh Ahuja in New Delhi)

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 09:25 IST