Email This Story :
Indian police arrested a man on Monday following the weekend attacks at the historic Bodh Gaya Buddhist temple complex and were studying CCTV footage that appeared to show two men planting explosives at the site, which injured two monks including a Burmese national.
According to Burmese monk and scholar at Magadh Univeresity in Bodh Gaya Ashin Aruna, the first explosions erupted early Sunday morning as devotees chanted near the famed tree where the first Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment.
“Burmese monk Vilsagga (Wila Thakka) said he went into shock after sustaining injuries after the explosion. And after the second and third blast went off he regained consciousness and was led to safety by other monks and then immediately sent to hospital,” said Ashin Aruna.
“Apparently, he was in close proximity to the [first] blast but evidently the explosion wasn’t too strong – he didn’t sustain any life threatening injuries.”
The injured Burmese monk Vilsagga is reportedly from Myingyan, Burma and was visiting India with the hopes of enrolling in a university after receiving a master’s degree.
The Indian government condemned the “terror attack” at one of Buddhism’s holiest sites after nine small bombs exploded on Sunday morning at the world-renowned pilgrimage destination in eastern Bihar state.
“The police are doing everything to identify the two persons on the basis of the CCTV footage,” local police official Chandan Kushwaha told AFP.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police arrested a local man who was being questioned in connection with the blasts.
“A man identified as Vinod Mistri was taken into custody in connection with the serial bomb blasts in Bodh Gaya,” state police official S.K. Bharadwaj told AFP.
Police picked up Mistri in the Barachatti area, a stronghold of Maoist insurgents 129 kilometres (80 miles) south of the state capital Patna, Bharadwaj said.
Delhi police said they had earlier warned officials that Islamic militants could target the temple complex as revenge for Buddhist violence against Muslims in neighbouring Burma.
According to a report in the Times of India, the blasts were linked to the Indian Mujahideen, whose operatives admitted that they had scouted the site during an interrogation session with Indian officials last year.
Attacks on Buddhists are rare in India, but there have been tensions in the region recently following clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma, as well as in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Two more bombs were found and defused at the complex on Sunday, one of them near the temple’s celebrated 80-feet-tall (24-metre) statue of the Buddha.
Along with temples, dozens of monasteries housing monks from around the world are located near the complex, which is believed to contain the holy bodhi tree under which the Buddha reached enlightenment in 531 BC.
After his meditations beneath the tree, the Buddha is said to have devoted the rest of his life to teaching.
The Bodh Gaya complex also houses multiple shrines marking the places where the Buddha is believed to have spent time after his enlightenment. He founded an order of monks before dying aged 80.
The complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site 110 kilometres south of Patna, is one of the earliest Buddhist temples still standing in India.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama makes frequent trips to the complex, which attracts visitors during the peak tourist season from October to March.
-Shwe Aung contributed additional reporting