Security at Bodh Gaya increased amidst fear of ‘revenge attack’ for Rohingya Muslims

Security in and around the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar has been increased as intelligence agencies belonging to both the state and central governments have issued alerts expressing possibility of the Buddhist temple being at the target of Islamic terrorists.

The temple is frequented both by Hindus and Buddhists and is especially busy currently with the season conducive for tourists as well as due to the ongoing pitrapaksha mela. Terrorists could target the temple around this time for maximum casualties, security agencies fear.

The temple was earlier targeted in July 2013, when a series of low intensity bomb blasts in the temple complex had left 5 people injured, including two Buddhist monks. An arrested suspect named Mohammed Umair Siddiqui had later revealed that the attack was targeted at international Buddhist tourists to avenge the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

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Siddiqui, a member of the banned SIMI and Indian Mujahideen organisations, had also revealed during the interrogation that the terrorists involved in bombing the Bodh Gaya temple later went on to target an election rally of Narendra Modi at Patna in October 2013, where six people were killed and many injured.

Security agencies fear that such groups could target Mahabodhi temple again, especially when the issue of Rohingya Muslims is making international headlines, and assorted activists in India are putting pressure on the Indian government to not deport illegal Rohingya immigrants. These fears are based on inputs from agencies as well as arrest of two suspects on Wednesday from a cyber café in Gaya.

One of these two suspects, Tausif Ahmed Khan, is also a suspect in the Ahmedabad blasts case of 2008, where more than 50 people were killed. A team of Gujarat police and NIA (National Investigation Agency) are reported to reach Gaya later today for further interrogation of the arrested terrorist.

Tausif is suspected to have been living in Bangladesh for a long time and visiting India through Malda district of West Bengal. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims are reported to have crossed into India through the Bangladesh border in West Bengal.

Police suspects that the two might have been planning to attack Mahabodhi temple to protest against alleged atrocities on Rohingya Muslims by Buddhists in Myanmar.

As a result, a high alert has been issued and authorities have been told to keep a tight vigil on developments and movements in and around the temple. To make sure that the security persons are focused on keeping vigil, use of mobile phones by security persons in the temple complex has been banned.

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