Hunt on for perpetrators of explosions

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

Hunt on for perpetrators of explosions

Terror came knocking at Bihar with low intensity blasts at the Mahabodhi temple on Sunday despite the Union Home Ministry issuing alerts to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government on the Buddhist religious symbol being on the radar of militants.

On October 23, Delhi Police and the MHA had warned Bihar that Pakistan-backed terrorists are planning to attack the Mahabodhi temple. Since then, about three more alerts were issued to Bihar Police requesting them to beef up security around the temple.

Interestingly, MHA sources said, the intelligence agencies shared another input last month of suspected infiltration of two suspected terrorists into Bihar.

That the temple was on the radar of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) was revealed last October when Delhi Police busted a module of five terrorists including Syed Maqbool, a close aide of IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal.

Maqbool was in direct touch with Pakistan-based Bhatkal, frequently interacting with him to seek directions through chat rooms on the internet, said a senior Delhi Police officer.

An expert on improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Maqbool had told the police as well as Intelligence Bureau of the IM's designs to target the Mahabodhi temple to take revenge for the Muslim killings in Myanmar.

Maqbool is said to have confessed to the Delhi Police special cell that was he was part of a group Bhatkal had formed for carrying out fidayeen attacks on Buddhist shrines. The other members of the group were Asad, Imran, Feroz and Irfan. But due to their arrest, the plan was foiled. Maqbool, said sources, had spilled the names of other sleeper agents active in Bihar.

Following his interrogation, the MHA had also shared inputs with Andhra Pradesh that IM cells were planning to attack Dilsukhnagar.

Though Bihar has not faced any terror strike in the recent past, Madhubani and adjoining areas such as Araria and Sitamarhi have acquired the dubious distinction of being host to many suspected IM members. Katil Siddique, who was murdered under suspicious circumstances in a Maharashtra jail, came from that region.

The home ministry, however, is still trying to ascertain which group behind is the blasts, after putting together the nature of the low-intensity bombs as senior officials said that it was too early to identify the pugmarks of a terror outfit.

Minister of State for Home R P N Singh told reporters that a probe was under way in the blast but no terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack. NSG and NIA teams have been rushed to the spot to assist the state in the probe.

Blasts occurred despite two alerts

Notwithstanding the claim by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar that there was no security lapse in and around Bodh Gaya, prima facie it appears that the Bihar police were caught napping despite two alerts – one in October, 2012, and the other in June, 2013, when it had been specifically pointed out that two suspected IM modules were reported to have sneaked into Bihar and might carry out their nefarious plans., reports DHNS from Bodh Gaya.

Nitish, who was the first to rush to Bodh Gaya on Sunday morning along with the DGP and the Home Commissioner, surveyed the blast site first hand and suggested deployment of the CISF  to protect the world famous Buddhist shrine.

“An NIA team and the Bihar police will investigate the matter and expose the conspiracy of those behind the attack,” said Nitish, adding that the serial blasts were carried out to create fear among Buddhists pilgrims.

Sunday’s incident, however, gave BJP enough ammunition to launch an attack on its erstwhile ally.

Comments (+)