‘Bodh Gaya attack was to avenge Rohingya killings’

A file photo of the Buddhist edifice that was torn apart in the 2013 explosion.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The Juvenile Justice Board that held an 18-year-old boy guilty of planting explosives at the Bodh Gaya temple complex in Bihar in 2013 has said the attack was to avenge the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The juvenile placed a bomb under the 80-ft statue of Gautama Buddha at the revered temple complex as “Buddhists from all over the world used to come there and a message will be sent to all,” an order of the juvenile court that convicted the boy of terrorist activities said.

The board sentenced him to three years in a remand home on October 11.

Raised suspicion

A monk from Thailand, a prime witness in the case, told National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials that he became suspicious when he saw one of the accused doing the “wrong parikrama [rituals]” at the temple complex. A copy of the order available with The Hindu says three months later, the accused planned another series of explosions at Gandhi Maidan in Patna during an electoral rally of Narendra Modi, then Gujarat Chief Minister and NDA’s prime ministerial candidate. Six people were killed and 89 injured in the explosions.

Myanmar, a Buddhist country, has seen the exodus of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine province over the past several decades. Before this year’s exodus, the mass migration intensified in 2012-13 when hundreds of Rohingya fled to neighbouring countries, including India.

On July 7, 2013, the juvenile and other accused planted 13 bombs at the Maha Bodhi temple complex. Two monks were injured and three unexploded bombs were recovered.

One of the accused, Haidar Ali, told the NIA that on the day of the blast, he along with the juvenile and others came from Ranchi and had 13 bombs with them. “Two accused — Mujibullah and Imtiyaz — got down at the monastery. The juvenile and another accused, Tarique Ansari, were directed to put the bomb under the 80-ft statue of Lord Buddha. Haidar Ali proceeded towards the Mahabodhi complex, changed to a monk’s attire and first planted a bomb at Animesh Lochan temple, the second at Mahabodhi tree, the third under an ambulance and the fourth at a small temple. The bombs were timed to explode between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.,” the Board’s order said. The accused, residents of Ranchi and Raipur, came together to avenge the killings of Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots and were also affected by the civil war in Yemen.

Haidar Ali, who was associated with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, “drew a map of the temple and decided to plant the explosives early in the morning as Buddhists and local people would be present in large numbers to offer prayers,” the order said. Ali was closely linked to the Indian Mujahideen.

“The Board’s order was the first judgment in the Bodh Gaya and Patna blast cases.

The case against the other accused is pending trial,” an NIA official said.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 9:20:07 AM |

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