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 on Sunday.
The DGP said the sanctum sanctorum of the famous Buddhist temple did not suffer serious damage.
He said security has been stepped up at the Mahabodhi 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.
Mr. Abhayanand said some exhibits have been taken away by the forensic and anti-sabotage squads from the temple for probing the serial blasts, Mr. Abhayanand said.
Replying to questions, he said the serial blasts started at 5:45 a.m. 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 Intelligence Bureau, 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 there was any security lapse, Mr. 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.
Mr. 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 1:30 p.m. 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.
BTMC to handover security to State police
Meanwhile, the BTMC has decided to hand over the temple’s security to the State police, an office bearer said.
An emergency meeting of the nine-member BTMC chaired by the district magistrate was held this afternoon where it was decided to hand over the security of the Maha Bodhi temple to the state police, BTMC member Arvind Singh said.
Earlier, the BTMC and State police were jointly managing the security of the Maha Bodhi temple with the management committee responsible for internal security, while the police managing security outside the premises, he said.
At the meeting, BTMC members unanimously decided to hand over the security of the temple to the state police in totality, Singh said.
The 52 monasteries under the BMTC also agreed to extend all cooperation to the state police in manning security in the temple town, the BTMC member said.