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Mahabodhi temple after blasts: Prayers continue, visitors barred

Source: PTI
July 07, 2013 19:01 IST
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Mahabodhi temple, the target of serial blasts, has been closed for the general public but prayers will continue to be held as usual at the religious site, Bihar police chief Abhayanand said on Sunday.

The director general of police 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 members and the police brass after the serial blasts at the shrine and surrounding areas.

The DGP said that he has also acceded to the request to allow 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 teams from the National Investigation Agency and the National Security Guard from New Delhi, he said.

Abhayanand said some exhibits have been taken away by the forensic and anti-sabotage squads.

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 at the venue was increased after the inputs were received. He added, "Every incident is a learning experience".

On the nature of explosives, the DGP refused to go into details but said the explosives were of medium intensity; the police report to the Union home ministry had suggested that they could have been crude bombs.

Asked whether terror outfit Indian Mujahideen 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 by the state authorities, Abhayanand said adequate measures were taken to beef up security after intelligence inputs in that regard.

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

On the visit by the NIA/NSG teams to probe the terror attack in Bodh Gaya, the DGP said they were scheduled to arrive by Sunday afternoon but had to return to Delhi due to bad weather.

"The NIA/NSG teams will leave from Delhi by a commercial flight tonight for Patna and from here, we will make arrangements for their onward journey to the temple town," the DGP said.

To a question about the victims, he said two monks have been injured in the blasts and they had been admitted at the 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.

Meanwhile, heavy showers at the Mahabodhi temple and surrounding areas hampered investigations by the state police.

The sky opened up at around 1.30 pm, putting material evidence at risk of getting damaged in the rains,.

Asked about the nature of explosives used to carry out the blasts, the DGP said. "It is not an explosion of very high intensity. You can say it is a mix of low and high intensity."

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

Image: Security personnel inspect the site of an explosion inside the Mahabodhi temple complex at Bodh Gaya in Bihar | Photograph: Krishna Murari Kishan/Reuters

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