48 hours of CCTV footage, call records being probed

A day after serial blasts rocked the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bihar’s Gaya district, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday interrogated one person detained in connection with the incident. A team of the central agency arrived in Gaya to investigate the case.

Based on a bag found in the temple premises, the police detained Vinod Mistri, resident of the Barachatti block in Gaya. “Vinod was picked up based on certain information. His photo identity card was found in the temple premises,” Abhayanand, Director General of Police, told reporters here. Deputy Inspector General of Police Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Hindu that Vinod is a carpenter who made small furniture.

The bag found contained a monk’s robe, a piece of paper with some mobile numbers, medical papers and a voter identity card belonging to Vinod. “He is not a monk. So the NIA is investigating why he was carrying the robe,” a police source told The Hindu.

The mobile numbers on the papers, sources told The Hindu, were traced to Delhi and some calls were made between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Sunday, just hours before the bombs went off. The link with these numbers is being investigated.

In addition, the NIA is also probing nearly 48 hours or roughly 48 GB of CCTV footage gathered from 16 cameras installed in the temple. One of these cameras has not been functioning for some time. The blurred footage showing the movement of people inside the temple has provided some clues, a police official said.

“We are examining and monitoring the footage. There is no clear indication yet,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Nayyar Hasnain Khan told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, investigators have confirmed that ammonium nitrate, timers and gas cylinders were used in the blasts. Vague traces of TNT (trinitrotoluene) and RDX were found, but there is no confirmation on whether these substances were used in the explosives. The samples collected from the blast site have been sent for forensic examination.

“In nearly all the blasts, gas cylinders, each weighing 2.5 kg, were used. RDX traces are possible, but nothing is confirmed yet,” Mr. Abhayanand said.

On Monday, the police found another exploded bomb further away from the temple, taking the total number of bombs to 13 — 10 exploded and three defused.

Splinters of the latest bomb were found in the Baiju Bigha area, about 1.10 kilometres from the temple, the DGP said.

Investigators have found three pieces of text, carrying brief markers of the location of the bombs, on chits pasted on the cylinders. The chits were recovered from the three live bombs, which were later defused. One of them had the word ‘bus’ written on it in English, indicating that it was intended to be planted in a bus. Another had the words ‘Tergar front’ on it in English — Terger referring to the monastery in the temple. A third had the words ‘bada Buddha’ (big Buddha) in Urdu. Another one whose contents were in Urdu pointed to revenge through jihad, sources said.

Investigators are surprised by how the bombs were planted quite high on the statue but no one noticed.

Bomb experts say a new kind of improvised explosives was used; Small cylinders were packed with ammonium nitrate, sulphur and potassium, and set off by analogue clock timers; Each bomb would have weighed 4-5kgs; A group should have worked to place the bombs; Insider involvement being probed