Opening the complex is the best way to restore confidence, says official

A day after the serial blasts, more than 100 Buddhist monks in red and orange robes and a handful of tourists entered the Bodh Gaya temple complex, chanting and their hands folded, as the administration opened the premises to the public on Monday evening. A few minutes later, Unyannainda, head of the Buddhist association in the temple complex, invoked the Buddha for strength and protection, and the monks seated under the sacred Mahabodhi tree began praying.

More than 200 policemen and jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force’s 117 Battalion kept watch near this site of bomb explosion. Mediapersons as well as a few of the younger monks recorded the prayers on hand-held cameras.

“This prayer asks for loving kindness,” said Penasakka, 34, a monk from Myanmar, who had earlier in the day tended to the injured student monk from that country, Vilsagga( 30), in AN Magadh Medical College at Gaya. A few minutes later, a group of tourists from Japan made their way into the main temple

“I had come to research the ancient trade route Uttarapath from Rajgriha to Pashari to Kapilavastu, which is older than the Silk Route. I was able to visit the temple but I may have to change my travel plans. I am not sure how safe it is right now,” said Hiroyuki Akashi, professor of political economy at Kamazawa University in Tokyo.

“It is my first visit here. I flew from Chittagong to Dhaka to Kolkata to Gaya to reach here on Saturday. It is wonderful that they allow us to go inside,” said Shubhra Biswasa, a visitor from Bangladesh.

NIA officials inspect complex

Earlier in the day, Gaya district officials and State police officials, accompanied by members of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC), made a number of visits to the temple site through intermittent rainto make preparations for opening the complex. Senior officials and experts of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), who had reached Bodh Gaya on Sunday night, examined the complex.

“We decided that we must open the temple complex and that will be the best way to restore everyone’s confidence,” said Joint Secretary-Culture Sanjiv Mittal, who had flown in from Delhi. M.S. Chauhan, Supervisor Archaeologist in the Mahbodhi temple complex, a 6th century A.D. site built during the Gupta period and UNESCO World Heritage Site, said none of the original structures of several shrines inside the complex had been damaged. “The only damage in these four blasts was to a pillar built a few years ago,” he said.

At a meeting of police officials and BTMC on July 3, a number of security measures had been proposed for the temple, said officials. “We had asked for a list of all monasteries, that identity cards be given to members, more doorframe metal detectors be installed and that the southern wall, which is broken, be repaired and made higher,” said Gaya Superintendent of Police Narendra Kumar.

Meanwhile, the police on Sunday night detained Vinod Mistry, owner of a furniture shop at Barachatti, 129 km from Patna, on suspicion as his identity card was found in the temple complex on Sunday after the blasts. But “Mr. Mistry said he had misplaced his identity card three days ago while visiting a clinic,” said the SP.

Two NIA officials at the site said they had examined video footage from 15 CCTVs cameras (of 16 as one was not functional) in the main temple complex.