TWO BUDDHIST MONKS INJURED in exploSions, NO DAMAGE TO mahabodhi temple or bodhi tree STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Patna, 7 July
Terrorists left their first major imprint on the Buddhist pilgrim town of Bodh Gaya early today as nine serial blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex and adjacent areas in a span of 30 minutes, sending shock waves across the “land of peace”.
The explosions took place between 5:30 and 5:58 a.m. and were set off by timers. Two monks were injured in the incident.
Although neither the Mahabodhi temple, which now figures among the Unesco&’s “World Heritage Sites” nor the Bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment in the 6th century BC, suffered any damage, peace became a major casualty in the first such terrorist attack in the state. Harried people jumped out of their beds in panic on hearing the deafening sounds of bomb explosions. Within no time, smoke filled the city skyline. In the meantime, the entire area has been cordoned off and a massive combing operation launched to catch the terrorists. Police have sealed all exit routes and are said to be conducting raids at certain points. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who along with senior officials, rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation, condemned the incident but denied there was any security lapse, saying the state government had already beefed security around the Buddhist shrine. According to him, four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi temple premises while the rest took outside. Three bombs planted by the terrorists, however, did not explode and were defused by security personnel.
"This could be an attempt to cause a divide in the society and we all should stay united to bravely fight the evil designs of the disruptive forces,” Mr Kumar said after inspecting the blast sites in the company of the officials while announcing to engage CISF jawans for temple security. He, though, expressed surprise over the way the terrorists managed to sneak into the temple premises and plant so many bombs dodging the available security. Investigating officials said TNT, RDX and ammonium nitrate have been used in the bombs which, according to them, confirms the involvement of terrorists in the attacks. They are, however, yet to identify the terrorist groups. The Centre directed all states to ensure fool-proof security at Buddhist shrines and Tibetan settlements. In an advisory issued in the wake of the continuing violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar, the Home Ministry said security needed to be tightened in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.