Two hurt in Bodh Gaya blasts; Won’t be tolerated, says PM

Bodh Gaya (Bihar), July 7 (IANS) Two monks were injured Sunday in a terror attack at the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar’s Bodh Gaya town where the Buddha attained enlightenment, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to vow that “such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated”.

Eight blasts took place early in the morning in quick succession at the 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple, annually visited by millions of pilgrims from all over the world. The deafening explosions triggered panic, but caused no major damage.

The temple complex, which is a Unesco Heritage site, has direct associations with the life of the Buddha (566-486 BC) as the place where in 531 BC he attained enlightenment while seated under the Bodhi tree.

“It is a terror attack…two people are injured,” union Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh told reporters in New Delhi after the bombings.

A local who resides near Mahabodhi temple said the blasts made the hotels, where a number of tourists were staying, shake.

“The blasts made the buildings shake and all the people of the hotels, comprising foreigners and tourists, came out wondering what had happened,” said the local resident.

There were conflicting reports about the timing of the bombings. A Bihar Police official said the first bomb went off around 5.15 a.m. and it was followed by the series of blasts. The bombings lasted about half an hour.

The union home ministry, however, said that the successive blasts took place between 5.30 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the temple complex and near the Bodhi tree.

Bodh Gaya is located about 110 km from Bihar capital Patna.

“Eight blasts took place early Sunday, including two near the Bodhi tree inside the temple compound,” Additional Director General of Police S.K. Bhardwaj told IANS.

He said two live bombs were found, including one near an 80-foot statue of the Buddha and the other near Karmapa temple, hardly a few metres from the Mahabodhi temple. Both bombs were later defused by a team of experts.

Bhardwaj said that two Buddhist monks were injured — one a Tibetan and the other a Myanmarese national.

“Injured Tibetan is identified as Tenzing Dorjee, 50, and the injured Myanmarese is Vilas Ga, 30,” Bhardwaj said.

The Mahabodhi temple complex structure has not suffered any damage, union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters in New Delhi.

“The temple complex structure has not suffered any damage. The monastery and the statue of Lord Buddha are safe,” he said.

Director General of Bihar Police Abhayanand reported that “four blasts have taken place inside the temple complex, three blasts (took place) inside the monastery complex, and one blast was…adjacent to the statue of Lord Buddha”, Goswami added.

“A team of NSG (National Security Guard) will carry out the post-bomb analysis, and a team of NIA (National Investigative Agency) will investigate the matter and has been sent from here,” he said.

The Mahabodhi temple is one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India and has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries.

Unesco describes it as one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely from brick in the late Gupta period.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday “strongly condemned” the serial blasts and said India’s “composite culture and traditions teach us respect for all religions and such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated”.

The Bihar government has sounded a high alert in Bodh Gaya and other sensitive places across the state.

Additional Director General of Police Ravinder Kumar said the police are on high alert after the serial blasts.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with top officials visited Bodh Gaya.

Intelligence agencies had last month warned the district authorities about a security threat to the temple. Last year, the security of the Mahabodhi temple was handed over to the Special Task Force (STF) of Bihar Police.

IANS 2013-07-07 13:27:36

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