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Bodh Gaya blasts: Mahabodhi temple reopens, Digvijay's remark angers BJP

Bodh Gaya, July 9:  The Mahabodhi temple here where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment reopened Monday evening after being shut for public following a string of 10 bomb explosions the previous morning.Police, meanwhile, continued to question

IANS IANS Updated on: July 09, 2013 6:24 IST
bodh gaya blasts mahabodhi temple reopens digvijay s remark
bodh gaya blasts mahabodhi temple reopens digvijay s remark angers bjp

Bodh Gaya, July 9:  The Mahabodhi temple here where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment reopened Monday evening after being shut for public following a string of 10 bomb explosions the previous morning.

Police, meanwhile, continued to question a suspect, Vinod Mishtri, a resident of Gaya district, where the revered Buddhist temple is located. A police officer said the man entered the temple in the garb of a monk.

The monk's robe worn by him has been seized, Director General of Police Abhayanand told the media.

On Monday evening, hundreds of Buddhist monks and others took out a peace march in Bodh Gaya, some 110 km from the Bihar capital Patna, and gathered at the main gate where they offered prayers.

The event was held to mark the reopening of the temple.

Gaya District Magistrate D. Balamurugan said the shrine, shut for outsiders after the terror attack, was reopened to the public with special prayers by Buddhist monks.

He said regular prayers at the temple never stopped.

"The prayers were not discontinued after the blasts. Only the public was not allowed entry in view of investigation," he said.

Deputy Inspector General of Police N.H. Khan said security had been stepped up in and around the temple, which is visited by millions from all over the Buddhist world.

A day later, it was still not clear who exploded the 10 low intensity bombs in the complex within 30 minutes -- and why. The explosions injured two monks and caused slight damage to the temple structure.

But it caused panic -- and triggered international condemnation.

Footage from CCTV cameras showed pilgrims -- the young and old -- running away from the temple premises as the bombs began going off.

Two gun-toting security personnel are then seen running into the complex.

Khan said more security forces with high tech equipment would be deployed for round the clock vigilance at the temple.

The Bodh Gaya temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is where the Buddha, who was born in neighbouring Nepal, attained enlightenment around 2,500 years ago.

In Patna, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar called for the deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the 1,500-year-old temple.

He said the Bihar government will bear the cost of the CISF deployment.

Nitish Kumar said the temple management had requested police to look after the security inside the temple premises, which was until now at the hands of a private security agency.

He admitted that Bihar had learnt a hard lesson from the terror attack.

In New Delhi, Minister for Tourism K. Chiranjeevi sought a report from the Bihar government on the damage caused to the Mahabodhi temple.

The temple is estimated to have been built between the 5th and 6th century AD.

In Nepal, authorities stepped up security at all major Buddhist shrines following the bomb blasts in India.

A security alert has gone out in Nepal, which is home to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Kapilvastu, where the Buddha spent his early life, is also located in Nepal.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh's tweets Monday about possible links between Narendra Modi's teleconference with party workers in Bihar and blasts in the Mahabodhi temple triggered angry response from the BJP which said that his remarks were "nonsensical" and "bizarre".

Digvijay Singh asked if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's teleconference with Bihar BJP cadres had any connection with the serial bomb blasts in the Mahabodhi temple.

"Amit Shah (BJP general secretary) promises a grand temple at Ayodhya. Modi addresses Bihar BJP workers and asks them to teach Nitish (Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) a lesson," Digvijay Singh said on Twitter, adding: "Next day bomb blasts at Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. Is there a connect? I don't know."

While addressing BJP workers Saturday, Modi had said Nitish Kumar would be taught a lesson people for "betraying the mandate of people".

Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United parted ways with the BJP after Modi was elevated last month as his party's election campaign chief for the 2014 general elections.

Digvijaya Singh, talking to reporters later, appealed to the BJP to allow the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to complete the investigation into the 10 serial blasts.

"After the unfortunate blasts at Bodh Gaya, Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP targeted the Nitish Kumar government, of which they were a part of a few days ago. The BJP also raised a Muslim angle, quoting Delhi Police and saying that the Pune blast (German Bakery blast of 2010) suspect did a recce at Mahabodi," he said.

"BJP also gave statements linking the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar to this incident. They are clearly targeting Muslims and I want to say to all that for god's sake, let the NIA complete the investigation," he said.

Observing Digvijaya's tweets should be read in entirety, the Congress said it just wanted that the blasts be probed and the guilty punished.

The Congress chose not to get drawn into the controversy.

"Digivijaya's tweets should be read in entirety. We urge the state government to probe the blasts and punish the guilty," Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das said.

"There should be no kite flying on the grave incident,' he said.

Reacting to Digvijaya Singh's remarks, Prasad said that Delhi Police had confirmed what he had said.

"There were proper intelligence inputs. It is not a fancy," Prasad said.

Officials of Delhi Police had said Sunday that one of four arrested terror suspects involved in last year's Pune blasts had said during questioning that he had made a video film of the area around the Mahabodhi temple. They said the information had been shared with Bihar Police.

Other BJP leaders too reacted to Digvijay Singh's remarks.

"There is no need to take his remarks seriously. Whatever he speaks, it is non-sensical," BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar said.

Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Digvijay Singh's remarks were "bizarre".

BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Congress leaders were fighting with BJP instead of taking on those who were spreading terror.

Speaking to reporters near Pune, some Minister SushilKumar Shinde said Monday that 10 blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex and 13 bombs were planted at the holy site the day before. Two monks were injured in the blasts.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) condemned the terror attack and said terrorists were succeeding because the government lacked the will to decisively deal with them.

RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement the need of the hour was to deal decisively with terrorism.

Digvijay Singh in one of his remarks also said that if the state government had intelligence inputs, it should not have kept security of shrine in private hands.

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