Prayers on at Mahabodhi temple, visitors barred

Prayers on at Mahabodhi temple, visitors barred

Bihar DGP says no harm to sanctum sactorum, but structures has suffered peripheral damage

Prayers on at Mahabodhi temple, visitors barred

The Mahabodhi temple, the target of serial blasts, has been closed for general public, but the prayers will continue to be held as usual, said Bihar police chief Abhayanand on Sunday.

The DGP said no harm has come to the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Buddhist temple, but some peripheral damage has occurred.

He said security has been stepped up at the Mahabodhi temple, which is visited by lakhs of people each year, and adjoining areas following a review meeting between the Bodh-Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) members and police brass after the serial blasts at the shrine and surrounding areas.

The DGP said that he has also acceded to the BTMC’s request for allowing evening prayers at the temple. He said prayers by the monks will be held as usual, but the temple premises will not be opened to common people for the time being.

It has been decided not to let in common people to protect material evidence related to the serial blasts, which will be investigated by the NIA and the NSG teams from New Delhi, he said.

Abhayanand said some exhibits have been taken away by the forensic and anti-sabotage squads from the temple for probing the serial blasts.

Replying to questions, he said the serial blasts started at about 5:45 am, as detected by the CCTV, and all the explosions took place within half-an-hour.

Asked why the blasts could not be averted even after an alert by the Intelligence Bureau, the state’s top cop said security was increased after the inputs were received, but added, “Every incident is a learning experience.” On the nature of explosives, the DGP refused to go into the details but said the explosives were of medium intensity, even as the police report to the Union Home Ministry suggested that they could have been crude bombs.

Asked whether terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) could have been behind the blasts in Bodh Gaya, he said he would not like to comment at this stage.  Asked whether there was any security lapse, Abhayanand said that adequate measures were taken to spruce up security after intelligence inputs in that regard.

Echoing his views, Principal Secretary (Home) Amir Subhani said that the state government had taken actions to improve security measures at the Mahabodhi temple and adjoining areas on the basis of all the inputs given by the intelligence agencies.

To a question about the victims, he said that two monks have been injured and that their condition is stated to be out of danger at a government hospital. Subhani said that necessary measures have been taken to beef up security at the temple town and the state government has been in regular touch with the Central government throughout the day with an aim to work together.

Meanwhile, heavy shower at the Mahabodhi temple and surrounding areas hampered investigation by the state police. The sky opened up at around 1:30 pm, putting material evidence at risk of getting damaged in the rains, said sources. Asked about the nature of explosive used to carry out the blasts, the DGP said. “It’s not an explosion of very high intensity. You can say it’s a mix of low and high intensity.”

The DGP said that such bombs have earlier also been used in blast incidents in Bihar.

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