Bodh Gaya blasts: Suspects’ sketches released, another live bomb found
Zee Media Bureau July 7, 2013
Bodh Gaya: Hours after a series of nine blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, sketches of two suspected perpetrators involved were released on Sunday. Meanwhile, there were reports of another live bomb being detected in between two hotels in Bodh Gaya.
Addressing a press conference, Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Abhayanand said that the security around the temple had been further stepped up, even as the prayers continued there. He, however, added that the temple would not be open for the public as of now.
On Sunday morning, a series of nine explosions rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya, injuring at least two people. The Home Ministry later confirmed that it was a terror attack.
The explosions, the first of its type to target the town and the temple, a UNESCO heritage site, took place between 5:30 and 5:58 AM. Last year, the Delhi Police claimed to have foiled a ‘fidayeen’ attack in the town with the arrest of suspected Indian Mujahideen elements to avenge “atrocities” against Muslims in Myanmar.
No group has claimed responsibility for what the Centre and state government have described as a terror attack in a region where Maoists have a strong foothold.
“While four blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, three occurred in Karmapa monastery, one each near near the famous 80-ft Buddha statue and at the bus stand near bypass,” said DIG Magadh range Nayyer Hussnain Khan.
Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami said in New Delhi that serial explosions inside and outside Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar were a terror attack and NIA and NSG teams have been sent for post-blasts investigations.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said two live bombs were defused in the town. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who rushed to the blast site from Patna, about 100 kms from here, demanded deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for security of the shrine.
“The serial blasts deserve strongest condemnation in strongest possible words as the perpetrators targeted the place of religious faith of crores of people with an aim to create fear among them,” he said.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly condemned the blasts, saying such attacks on religious places will “never be tolerated”.
Arvind Singh, a member of Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee said the two injured included a national of Myanmar and another of Tibet. They have been admitted to Magadh Medical College and Hospital, he said.
Singh said two other bombs, one near the 80 feet statue and one at bus stand have been defused.
Asked about the nature of explosives used, S K Bharadwaj, ADG (Law and Order) said they were low intensity time bombs.
“We got information about six-seven months back that there may be a terror attack on the Mahabodhi Temple. After that we had beefed up security and deployed extra forces”.
“In Bodh Gaya temple, the police security arrangements are only outside the temple while the security inside is looked after by temple trust officials,” police said.
“The sanctum sanctorum of the Mahabodhi Temple is intact. The temple premises have been sanitised,” Khan said.
An official of the Bodh Gaya committee said, “There were four blasts inside the temple premises. Fortunately, there was no damage to the Bodhi Tree or the main temple structure.”
“In the first blast which took place near the Bodhi tree, a table was blown up because of which two persons were injured. The second blast, I think, was inside the enclosure where books were kept. The furniture was damaged but there was no damage to the monuments or statues,” he said.
With reports that central agencies had warned about this attack and given specific inputs to the state, BJP and other opposition parties accused the Centre and the Bihar government of having failed to take steps to avert the terror strike.
“It is a serious issue that central agencies had warned about this attack and given specific inputs that Bodh Gaya would be attacked and still no proper arrangements were made (by the state government). The central government must also take responsibility to avoid such attacks,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here.
Congress general secretary and communication department in-charge Ajay Maken said, “We condemn this horrific incident in Bodh Gaya. I urge the state government and other agencies to bring the guilty to justice as soon as possible. We also wish speedy recovery to all the injured.”
With PTI inputs
Did attacks on Muslims in Myanmar trigger Bodh Gaya blasts?
Hla Hla Myint, a victim of recent violence with a head gunshot wound, rests in the bed of a hospital in Kyuktaw township in this October 25, 2012 file photo. Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun
Are the serial blasts in Bodh Gaya a reaction to the persecution of Muslim minorities in Buddhist-majority Myanmar? Jihadists have been clamouring for action for long. Even Delhi Police had clear intelligence on it.
“The Indian government is working in cahoots with Burmese government to wipe out Muslim population of #Burma”: Jama’t ud Da’wah chief Hafiz Saeed, based in Lahore, had tweeted on June 14.
There were five more tweets by Saeed, whom India has accused of masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
“The prevailing silence of international community on the issue of #Burma is saddening to say the least.”
“It is also an obligation on the whole Muslim ummah to defend the rights and honor of #Rohingya Muslims in #Burma.”
“It is a moral responsibility on the newly elected government to take practical measures for stopping this genocide of Muslims in #Burma.”
“We will work for consensus between all religious and political parties on #Burma issue.”
“Muslim rulers must unite and raise their voice for the genocide of muslims in #Burma at the security council.”
Then on July 26, according to report published in Paksiatni newspaper The Express Tribune, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threatened to “attack Burmese interests” if the Pakistan did not cut off its diplomatic relations with Myanmar.
The outfit also said it “we will take revenge of your blood”.
People sit amongst ruins of a burnt neighborhood at East Pikesake ward in Kyaukphyu on November 5, 2012. Reuters/Minzayar
Investigators are also going to interrogate Syed Maqbool, an accused in Pune’s German bakery blast case, who had earlier confessed that terrorists hade done a recce of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya and also made a video of the place.
This came out in a press release issued by Delhi Police’s special cell on October 26 last year after the arrest of an IED trainer in the Pune blast case.
Excerpts from the press statement (http://delhipolice.nic.in/home/backup/26-10-2012.doc):
“Sustained interrogation of the accused arrested by us revealed that a person, namely, Sayed Maqbool @ Zuber, S/o Syed Haji, R/o Samtam Nagar, Near Madina Masjid, Dharmabad, Nanded, Maharashtra was in close association with them and together they planned to commit fiyadeen attacks on the Buddhist shrines in Bodh Gaya in Bihar as retaliation to the alleged atrocities being committed upon Muslims in Myanmar. Their plan had the approval and support of the Bhatkal brothers. Sayed Maqbool was arrested after great deal of efforts on 23rd October 2012 from Hyderabad where he had been hiding to evade his arrest.
Maqbool came in contact with Imran through a common friend. The latter introduced Maqbool to Asad and Irfan. Maqbool taught them how to make a bomb by using urea, diesel and fire cracker powder at Asad’s farmhouse in Aurangabad. In April 2012, Imran introduced Maqbool to the Bhatkal brothers. Before the Pune serial blasts of 1st August, Maqbool, Irfan, Imran and Asad had discussed their plan of carrying out a fidayeen attack on Buddhist shrines at Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Since Bhatkals wanted to avenge the death of Qateel Siddiqui, they decided to carry out bomb blasts at Pune first.”
Despite police knowing about it, the attacks did come, after nine months, a day after Tibetan Buddhists celebrated the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday.
At least 237 people have been killed and about 150,000 people displaced in Myanmar in clashes Buddhists and minority Muslims.
Most of the victims were Muslim and the most deadly incidents happened in Rakhine State, where about 800,000 Rohingya Muslims live, according to the United Nations.
Muslims make up about 5 percent of the 60 million people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
–With agency inputs
Centre issues advisory, mentions communal strife in Myanmar
Bharti Jain, TNN | Jul 7, 2013, 01.55 PM IST
While calling for stepped up vigil at sensitive installations, crowded places and places of worship, the MHA advisory on Sunday morning alerted all the states on inputs about alleged plans of radical groups to target Buddhist installations in India in the light of clashes between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar in the recent months.
Inputs were generated in October 2012 indicating terrorists’ plans to target Buddhist places like Bodh Gaya in Bihar, a senior home ministry official told TOI.
The Gaya SP is reported to have held discussions with the MHA officials here regarding the threats to Bodh Gaya and measured to beef up security at the shrine.
Incidentally, alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Sayed Maqbool, arrested in October from Hyderabad and linked to Pune blast module, had told theDelhi Police special cell of plans to commit fiyadeen attacks on Buddhist shrines in Bodh Gaya in “retaliation to the alleged atrocities being committed upon Muslims in Myanmar”. These plans had the approval and support of the Bhatkal brothers, he claimed.
The Central security agencies feel the Bodh Gaya blast was carefully planned and intended to create fear and panic among people and communal discord.
Bihar intelligence sources have told the Centre that of the nine blasts that rocked Bodh Gaya, four bombs went off in Buddha temple, three at Karma monastery two kilometers away, one near the 80-feet Buddha statue and another below a bus. Two live bombs were also found but were defused.
Two people, including a Myanmar national, were injured in the blasts.
They have been identified as Tensing Dorje and Vila Saja, the latter from Myanmar.
The home ministry advisory sent on Sunday asked the states to gear up intelligence gathering and security machinery.
“All police stations (should be) alerted, with additional deployment at sensitive locations. All precautionary measures may be taken to prevent untoward incidents. Any development of interest be reported at once,” it added.
Bodh Gaya serial blasts: IM militants had told Delhi Police about targeting Mahabodhi temple
Maqbool had told Delhi Police that Bhatkal had a plan to target Buddhist shrines in India to extract revenge for the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Delhi Police special cell had then given detailed info about the Bodh Gaya plan to Home Ministry, which in turn, had passed it on to Bihar police.
A team from Gaya police had then visited Delhi and discussed about this info. The district magistrate of Gaya, who is the president of Bodh Gaya temple management committee, had then promised to instal cctv cameras at the shrine and in neighbouring localities.
Home Ministry today asked Bihar police why no concrete action to safeguard the major Buddhist shrine was not taken despite issuing three alerts within a month.
Delhi Police had arrested an Indian Mujahideen module in connection with Pune serial blasts in August last year, based on which one IM militant Syed Maqbool was arrested on October 25.
Here is what Delhi Police speciall cell had told media at that time:
“The Special Cell, Delhi Police had busted an Indian Mujahideen Module with the arrest of four persons, namely, Asad Khan (aged 33 years) r/o Tawakkal Nagar, Naigaon, Distt. Aurangabad, Maharashtra, Imran Khan (aged 31 years) r/o Peer, Bhurahan Nagar near Masjid-e-Saalehind, Nanded, Maharashtra, Sayed Feroz @ Hamza (aged 38 years) r/o Shukarwarpath, Pune, Maharashtra and Landge Irfan Mustafa (aged 30 years) s/o Landge Mustafa Usman r/o Raj Nagar Dargah, Darya Road, Mukund Nagar, Ahmed Nagar, Maharashtra and explosives, detonators and other incriminating material had been recovered. With their arrest the serial blasts of 1stAugust, 2012 were worked out.
“Sustained interrogation of the accused arrested by us revealed that a person, namely, Sayed Maqbool @ Zuber, S/o Syed Haji, R/o Samtam Nagar, Near Madina Masjid, Dharmabad, Nanded, Maharashtra was in close association with them and together they planned to commit fiyadeen attacks on the Buddhist shrines in Bodh Gaya in Bihar as retaliation to the alleged atrocities being committed upon Muslims in Myanmar.
“Their plan had the approval and support of the Bhatkal brothers. Sayed Maqbool was arrested after great deal of efforts on 23rd October 2012 from Hyderabad where he had been hiding to evade his arrest.
” Maqbool came in contact with Imran through a common friend. The latter introduced Maqbool to Asad and Irfan.
“Maqbool taught them how to make a bomb by using urea, diesel and fire cracker powder at Asad’s farmhouse in Aurangabad. In April 2012, Imran introduced Maqbool to the Bhatkal brothers.
“Before the Pune serial blasts of 1st August, Maqbool, Irfan, Imran and Asad had discussed their plan of carrying out a fidayeen attack on Buddhist shrines at Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Since Bhatkals wanted to avenge the death of Qateel Siddiqui, they decided to carry out bomb blasts at Pune first.
” About a month before Ramzan in 2012, Maqbool helped Imran in doing a recce of Dilkhush Nagar, Begum Bazar and Abids in Hyderabad on a motorcycle. This was done on the instruction of Riyaz Bhatkal…
” Maqbool began his criminal career along with one Azam Gauri @ Aleem r/o Warangal, Andra Pradesh (killed in a police encounter in 2000).
“His first criminal act was the murder of Krishna Moorthy (FIR No. 220/1999, u/ss. 302/120-B/34 IPC read with sec. 25/27 Arms Act, PS Bodhan, District Nizamabad in which he has been convicted for life. However, he was released from jail in October 2009 after commutation of his sentence.
“His next criminal act was the murder of one Devender (Case FIR No. 195/1999, u/ss. 302/120-B/34 IPC read with ss. 25/27 Arms Act, PS CID, Andhra Pradesh), who had allegedly encroached on a Masjid land in Uppal, A.P.
” Maqbool was also involved in the murder of Mahaveer Prasad (Case FIR No. 172/2000, u/ss. 302/34 read with s. 6 Explosive Substances Act, PS Afzal Ganj, Hyderabad City), a jeweller. Here the motive was robbery.
“Maqbool was instrumental in the formation of IMMM (Indian Muslim Mohammadin Mujahidin; a terrorist organization) at village Mancharia in 1999 alongwith Azam Gauri and Roshan Baig.
” They worked under the garb of social reformists by showing that their objectives were –
(1) To stop dowry system in society.
(2) To fight against corruption and
(3) To stop pornographic films.
“Azam Gauri had taught Maqbool how to prepare IEDs so that they can cause blasts in those theatres where blue films were being shown.
“Maqbool alongwith others were involved in the following bomb blast cases:
Bomb blast at Kaketiya Hotel, Lal Darwaza (FIR No. 01/2000, u/ss. 4/5 Explosive Substances Act, PS Moghalpura, District Hyderabad City)
Blast at Sharda theatre (FIR No. 28/2000, u/ss. 307/120-B IPC read with ss. 3/4/5 Explosive Substances Act, PS Itwara, District Nanded.
Blast in Lamba Theatre, Secunderabad (FIR No. 31/2000, u/s. 120-B IPC read with ss. 4/5/6 Explosive Substances Act, PS Begumpet, Secunderabad, Hyderabad City,
Blast in the House of Azam Ghori while preparing IEDs. (FIR No.28/1998 u/s 307 IPC read with Sec. 3/4/5 Explosive Substances Act, PS Dharmabad, District Nanded.”