Security was tightened in Bihar’s Bodh Gaya on Saturday after a low-intensity bomb exploded hours after the Dalai Lama finished a sermon on Friday. Soon after, security personnel had found two “live bombs”, one barely 100 metres from the Tibetan Monastery, where the religious guru has been staying since January 2. The Dalai Lama is on a visit to Bodh Gaya until February 2.
While intelligence sources confirmed the blast, the administration maintained there had been no explosion. “Let us make it clear that there was no breach of security. Two bombs were recovered and both were found outside the premises of the temple and the Mahabodhi Society,” said Gaya District Magistrate Abhishek Kumar Singh.
Sources in the Bihar Police and intelligence agencies said the idea behind the low-intensity blast was to create panic, rather than cause damage, at a time when about 10,000 people, many from other countries, have gathered at Bodh Gaya. They said the explosive had been kept in a flask placed under a generator at a tea shop, opposite the Kalchakra ground.
An NIA team, including an SP and an explosives expert, reached Bodh Gaya on Saturday afternoon. Gaya District Magistrate Abhishek Kumar Singh said security had been further tightened near Mahabodhi temple and the Tibetan Monastery. On Saturday, all vehicles coming into Bodh Gaya were made to go through mandatory checks. The gates of the Tibetan Monastery remained shut, with private security guards deployed outside. “We are not allowing entry of vehicles inside the town and people are being frisked. About 200 CCTVs are functioning in and around the main temple,” said Singh.
With no preaching scheduled for Saturday, the Dalai Lama remained inside the monastery. Sources in the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee said everything had gone on as usual till about 5 pm, when Bihar Governor Satyapal Malik left for Patna after visiting the temple. “We heard a commotion near Kalchakra ground and heard that a bomb had gone off. Later, a sweeper detected a bomb kept in a plastic bag and he handed it over to a Bihar Military Police head constable. Police searched the entire area and found another bomb,” said a BTMC source.
On July 7, 2013, six people, including a monk, were injured in a series of blasts in Bodh Gaya. A Patna court is likely to deliver the verdict soon in a combined case of the 2013 Gandhi Maidan blasts of Patna and the 2013 Bodh Gaya blasts.