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Current Affairs ( 6 Jul 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Mahabodhi Temple, Buddha Idol Safe in Serial Blasts






A security officer inspects the site of an explosion on the campus of the Mahabodhi Temple, in Bodhgaya, Bihar,on Sunday, July 7, 2013.


July 07, 2013

The Mahabodhi temple complex structure has not suffered any damage, said a top official here Sunday following a string of bombings that left two monks injured in Bihar's Bodh Gaya.

"The temple complex structure has not suffered any damage. The monastery and the statue of Lord Buddha are safe," union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told reporters here.

According to the home ministry, blasts took place in quick succession between 5:30am and 6:00am in the temple complex and near the Bodhi tree.

"Eight blasts took place inside the Mahabodhi temple between 5:30am and 6:00am"

The director general of police Bihar 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.

Two people were injured in the blasts and have been taken to a hospital.

"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 temple at Bodh Gaya was built at the spot where the Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2002.




Prayers Continue At Mahabodhi Temple, Visitors Barred For Now

PTI | Jul 7, 2013

GAYA: Mahabodhi Temple, the target of serial blasts, has been closed for general public but the prayers will continue to be held as usual, Bihar police chief Abhayanand said.

The DGP 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 temple, which is visited by lakhs of people each year, and adjoining areas following review meeting between the Bodh Gaya Temple management committee (BTMC) members and police brass after the serial blasts at the shrine and surrounding areas.

The DGP said that he has also acceded to the BTMC's request for allowing 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 the NIA and the NSG teams from New Delhi, he said.

Abhayanand said some exhibits have been taken away by the forensic and anti-sabotage squads from the temple for probing the serial blasts, Abhayanand said.

Replying to questions, he said the serial blasts started at about 05:45am 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 IB, the state's top cop said security was increased after the inputs were received but added "every incident is a learning experience".

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

Asked whether terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) 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, Abhayanand said that adequate measures were taken to spruce up security after intelligence inputs in that regard.

"Every incident is a new learning experience for us." Echoing his views, principal secretary (Home) Amir Subhani said that the state government had taken actions to improve security measures at the Mahabodhi Temple and adjoining areas on the basis of all inputs given by the intelligence agencies.

On the visit by the NIA/NSG teams to probe the terror attack in Bodh Gaya, the DGP said that they were scheduled to arrive by a special helicopter this afternoon, but had to return back 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 that two monks have been injured and their condition is stated to be out of danger at a 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 with an aim to work together.

Meanwhile, heavy shower at the Mahabodhi Temple and surrounding areas hampered investigation by the state police.

The sky opened up at around 1:30pm putting material evidence at risk of getting damaged in the rains, sources said.

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

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



Bodh Gaya Blasts Not Of High Intensity: Bihar Police Chief

IANS | Jul 7, 2013

PATNA: The nine blasts at the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar's Bodh Gaya town were not of "very high intensity" and therefore no damage was caused to the sanctum sanctorum, Bihar Police chief Abhayanand said on Sunday.

"The explosions were not of high intensity...somewhere between low and high intensity," Abhayanand said while addressing the media persons.

"No damage has been caused to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple," he added.

The DGP said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the National Security Guards (NSG) teams would be examining the blast site at night while the evening prayers will take place on time.

"The evening prayers by monks will take place but general public would not be allowed inside the premises as of now," he said.

"Security in and around the temple has been beefed up," he added.

Two monks were injured in the blasts that rocked the 1,500-year-old temple early Sunday morning.



‘Bihar Administration to Be Blamed For Shameful Act’

July 06, 2013

Despite multiple meetings by the police and the administration and intelligence inputs it was regrettable that nearly eight blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar’s Gaya district. The explosions injured two persons, including a Burmese monk, Pragya Deep, Treasurer of the All India Bhiku Sangha told The Hindu on the phone from Bodh Gaya.

“The administration had prior information. There was a report of the Intelligence Bureau. A series of security review meetings have been conducted. There have been at least five to six meetings. It’s shameful that despite this, the blasts have taken place. This is a mistake on the part of the administration,” Pragya Deep said.

He was conducting a meeting in the Sangha’s office, about 10 minutes from the Mahabodhi temple, when he heard sounds of the blast.

“We immediately left for the temple, where we were informed by the monks there of the serial explosions. The explosions began around 5.15 a.m. and lasted for half an hour,” he said.

The first blast took place on the left of the sacred Bodhi tree where the Buddha’s footprints are located. The second blast site was the candle house where the bomb was kept in an ambulance located outside. The third explosion was outside the Animesh Lochan Chaitya, one of the places associated with enlightenment of Lord Buddha. “The Buddha is believed to have stood here for seven days looking at the Bodhi tree,” Pragya Deep said.

The next blast was near a wall railing that is the entry point for the monks. “This could have been intended to cause loss of life, but thankfully not many people were there around that time.”

One Burmese monk Vishwavidya was injured in this blast. He sustained injuries in the leg, hand, head and chest. He is being treated at the local government hospital. A staff member of the Nirmal Temple was also injured in the explosion. “Both of them are out of danger,” Pragya Deep said.

The next three bombs went off in a car outside the Karma Temple. A final blast was near the famous Japanese Buddha statue. “Two bombs were kept near the statue. One went off while one which was placed near the feet did not explode. Had it gone off, the damage would have been great,” Pragya Deep said.

There is a sense of fear among the monks at the temple. “It’s natural to feel fear. I don’t know why the temple was made the target. We were never involved in any kind of violence. Neither is there any ongoing religious conflict involving the Buddhist community,” Pragya Deep said.



NIA Team Reaches Bodh Gaya, Begins Probe

IANS | Jul 7, 2013

PATNA: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team on Sunday evening began its probe into the serial blasts in the Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar's Bodh Gaya town, police officials said.

"A NIA team led by an IPS officer Vikas Vaibhav began probe into the serial blasts in Bodh Gaya soon after they arrived," said an official at police headquarters.

According to police officials in Gaya, the NIA team was expected by the afternoon but their arrival was delayed due to bad weather.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who inspected the site soon after the blasts, had announced that the NIA would conduct a probe into the serial blasts in the temple.

Meanwhile, some Buddhist monks offered prayers amid chanting of holy scriptures at Mahabodhi temple on Sunday evening.

"Only Buddhist monks were allowed in to offer prayers in the temple as usual. The government has decided not to discontinue the regular prayers and worship by monks in the temple," said Bihar police chief Abhayanand.

The temple would, however, open on Monday as usual for pilgrims and tourists after the NIA team completes the process of collecting evidence from the site.



Security Beefed Up In Bangalore In Wake Of Blasts In Bodh Gaya

July 07, 2013

Security has been beefed up in Bangalore, country's IT hub, in the wake of the serial blasts in Buddhist pilgrimage town of Bodh Gaya and Mahabodhi Temple complex early on Sunday that left two monks injured.

Police commissioner Bangalore City, Raghavendra Auradkar told PTI that officers and personnel of the department had been directed to make adequate Bandobast in places of high footfalls including railway stations, airports, malls, shopping complexes.

Also adiitional security has been provided in places of worship besides IT companies and institutions like Indian Institute of Science and Indian Space Research Organisation.

"The officers have also been asked to have dialogue with community leaders to prevent any law and order situation and maintain peace and harmony", he said.



President Condemns Bodh Gaya Serial Blasts As Senseless Act Of Terror

July 07, 2013

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday condemned the serial blasts at Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya as a senseless act of violence to target innocent pilgrims.

Expressing deep anguish over the blasts, he said it was a "senseless act of violence targeting innocent pilgrims and monks who had gathered to worship at this temple dedicated to the great apostle of peace - Gautam Buddha".

In a statement, the president hoped for the speedy recovery of those injured in the blasts.

Asking people to maintain calm and restraint, he asked them to cooperate with the authorities in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Nine serial explosions rocked the internationally renowned temple town of Bodh Gaya, including four in the Mahabodhi Temple complex, injuring two monks in the blasts.

The Mahabodhi Temple is frequented by Buddhist pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China and Japan and the whole of Southeast Asia.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama makes frequent trips to Bodh Gaya and Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa had visited it six months back. A total of 52 countries have established their monasteries there.



PM Condemns Terror Strike In Bodh Gaya

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday strongly condemned the terror strike on the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya and said such attacks on religious places will "never be tolerated".

"The Prime Minister has strongly condemned the blasts in around the sacred Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya. He has said that our composite culture and traditions teach us respect for all religions and such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated," a Prime Minister's office release said here.

The Prime Minister also wished speedy recovery to the people injured in the attack.

Nine serial blasts took place inside and outside the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya early on Sunday morning in which two people were injured.

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."



National Buddhist Body Condemns Attack

July 06, 2013

Shocked and saddened by the serial blasts that rocked the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar’s Gaya district, the All India Bhiku Sangha, a national organisation of Buddhist monks has condemned the incident as an attack on messengers of peace.

“Buddhist monks all over the country feel saddened by the attack. The international community is also shaken. We try to put people on the right path and we have been made the target of a terror attack. The All India Bhiku Sangha condemns this attack. This should not have happened. We spread the message of peace across the world. This is an attempt to spread terror and create discord among the messengers of peace, Bhante Sadanand Mahasthaver, chairman of the Sangha, told The Hindu on phone from Maharashtra’s Wardha district.

Mr. Bhante Sadanand said a likely impact of the conflict in Myanmar cannot be ruled out as a possible reason for targeting the Buddhist community in this fashion.

“Bodh Gaya is the site that sent the message of peace to the world. It’s a sacred site. It was the fountainhead of enlightenment and knowledge and education to the world. Many universities and centers of learning sprang from this site. Although India is lagging behind in education, it is considered to be ‘gurudesh’ [teacher country]. There were many Buddhist Universities here once and India was the leader in education,” Bhante Sadanand said.

Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya is a world heritage site - inscribed in 2002. Bodh Gaya is associated with the enlightenment of Lord Buddha (566-486 B.C.). The sacred Bodhi tree under which he is believed to have attained enlightenment. The place is highly venerated by the Buddhists.