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.