The National Investigation Agency probing the Bodh Gaya attack has ruled out a Naxalite or a Hindu extremist link. Sources in the NIA say that it was either an outsourced group of the Indian Mujahideen or the outfit itself which could have carried out the blasts.
Two people were injured when 10 blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple on July 7.
While the blasts bear the stamp of the Indian Mujahideen, the sketch of the accused released by the NIA bears a resemblance to a Buddhist monk. This had initially led to a lot of confusion and the investigators thought that it could be an insider job.
However, after the CCTV footage was shown to some of the inmates, they confirmed to the NIA that the man was not a Buddhist since the manner in which he did the parikrama was wrong. An NIA officer told Rediff.com that according to the inmates, the parikrama around the Buddha statue is done in a clockwise direction, but this man on the footage was doing it anti-clockwise.
According to some of the eyewitnesses they had seen this man do the parikrama wrong, but none of them questioned him.
Sources in the NIA say that a person looking like a Buddhist could have been hired by the IM or its outsourced force for this operation. It was very well-planned and the bomber, who was to plant the main bomb, entered the premises in a robe which reduced suspicion.
“However, only if his lack of knowledge regarding the rituals had been questioned by some of the inmates, this blast could have been avoided,” an NIA official pointed out.
The NIA has also found that the intention was to plant the bomb inside the temple. However, prayers had commenced and the bomber was unable to get in. He instead decided to blow up the Buddha statue and spent at least ten minutes there before he planted the bomb.
Sources in the NIA said that they are ruling out the Hindu angle to this blast, since none of the extremists would target a non-Muslim shrine.
“Moreover, Bodh Gaya is a very pious place for Hindus too and carrying out an attack here is quite unlikely. While we have ruled this out for now, all possible angles of investigations continue,” the officer added.
Apart from the IM angle, the NIA is also thoroughly probing the local group angle. The IM could have well outsourced this operation to locals around the shrine, the NIA sources said.
“One of the eyewitnesses told us that there was another bomber who had spoken fluently in the local Magadhi language and this has raised our suspicion. We have also been questioning some of the temple authorities who have told us that there was no kind of feud within the administration which could have triggered such a reaction. Even if there were to be a feud then the person would have planted one bomb and not 14 like was done in this case,” the officer noted.
Image: A security personnel walks next to bloody footprints inside the Mahabodhi temple complex
Photographs: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters