In a well coordinated terror attack, multiple low-intensity serial blasts on Sunday targeted the world renowned pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya and Maha Bodhi Temple complex, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines, early in the morning that left two monks injured.
The iconic 80-foot-long statue of Gautam Buddha and the temple premises was not damaged in the low intensity blasts. Terming the low-intensity serial blasts in the temple town of Bodhgaya as a terror attack, the Home Ministry rushed teams of the NSG and the NIA to the spot.
The Home ministry has issued an advisory to eight cities in the country, including Delhi, to take special care of Buddhist shrines and places of worship. Four metropolitan cities and Ahmedabad, Puna, Kolkata and Hyderabad has been put on alert to strengthen the security.
Frequented by Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China, Japan and the whole of southeast Asian, the temple and the Bodhi Tree, under which Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment, did not suffer any damage in the blasts which shook the holy town.
The explosions, the first of its type to target the town and the temple, a UNESCO heritage site, took place between 5:30 and 5:58 AM.
Last year, the Delhi Police claimed to have foiled a ‘fidayeen’ attack in the town with the arrest of suspected Indian Mujahideen elements to avenge “atrocities” against Muslims in Myanmar.
No group has claimed responsibility for what the Centre and state government have described as a terror attack in a region where Maoists have a strong foothold.
“While four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, three occurred in Karmapa monastery, one each near near the famous 80-ft Buddha statue and at the bus stand near bypass,” DIG Magadh range Nayyer Hussnain Khan told a news agency.
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told in New Delhi that serial explosions inside and outside Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar were a terror attack and NIA and NSG teams have been sent for post-blasts investigations.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said two live bombs were defused in the town.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who rushed to the blast site from Patna, about 100 kms from here, demanded deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for security of the shrine.
“The serial blasts deserve strongest condemnation in strongest possible words as the perpetrators targeted the place of religious faith of crores of people with an aim to create fear among them,” he said.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly condemned the blasts, saying such attacks on religious places will “never be tolerated”.
Arvind Singh, a member of Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee said the two injured included a national of Myanmar and another of Tibet. They have been admitted to Magadh Medical College and Hospital, he said.
Singh said two other bombs, one near the 80 feet statue and one at bus stand have been defused.
Asked about the nature of explosives used, S K Bharadwaj, ADG (Law and Order) said they were low intensity time bombs.
“We got information about six-seven months back that there may be a terror attack on the Mahabodhi Temple. After that we had beefed up security and deployed extra forces”.
“In Bodh Gaya temple, the police security arrangements are only outside the temple while the security inside is looked after by temple trust officials,” police said.
“The sanctum sanctorum of the Mahabodhi Temple is intact. The temple premises have been sanitised,” Khan said.
An official of the Bodh Gaya committee said, “There were four blasts inside the temple premises. Fortunately, there was no damage to the Bodhi Tree or the main temple structure.”