Terrorist groups make inroads into Gaya, say intelligence agencies
Taushif Sagir Khan Pathan, the main accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts that killed 56 people, was recently arrested in Gaya.india Updated: Jan 20, 2018 19:04 IST
The arrest of a suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative in Gaya four months ago has sparked speculation that several sleeper cells of Islamic terrorists were possibly active in and around the Bihar town where the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Taushif Sagir Khan Pathan, the main accused in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts that killed 56 people, was arrested along with Gulam Sarvar Khan, a former chief of the banned SIMI’s Bihar unit. Pathan was staying in Khan’s home in the town, which is a popular tourist destination because of its acssociation with the Buddha.
Their arrests gave Bihar police and central intelligence agencies vital clues about the growing presence of terrorist groups in Bodh Gaya, sources said on Saturday. These groups are apparently attempting to make inroads in areas considered safe by security forces.
Intelligence sources said the duo was inviting and sheltering Rohingya refugees from Myanmar in the Muslim-dominated areas and trained them to attack prominent Buddhist installations and tourist hubs.
Pathan, who often changed his identity, organised a rally in Gaya in August last year in support of the Rohingya, who had fled to Bangladesh because of Myanmarese military crackdown.
A senior intelligence officer, who requested that his identity be kept secret, said the terrorist groups were involved in planting explosives near the Mahabodhi temple complex on Friday night.
The objective was to trigger blasts at the site when the Dalai Lama was visiting and draw international attention towards the Rohingya, the officer said.
According to detectives who investigated the 2013 blasts in Gaya, there’s strong proof to establish that Pathan had raised foot soldiers capable of making explosives and hitting soft targets.
The agencies also suspect that the 2013 Patna blasts accused, currently lodged in Beur Central jail, could be working through messengers visiting them in the prison.
Senior police officers refused comments on the alleged proliferation of terrorists in one of Buddhism’s most sacred places. 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.”
First Published: Jan 20, 2018 19:02 IST