Bodhgaya, the holiest shrine of Buddhism, is a UNESCO-declared heritage site. Situated in the northern Indian state of Bihar, 130 km south of Patna, the temple complex comprises of 52 Buddhist monasteries. Many of these monasteries have been built by foreign countries like Japan, China and Myanmar. The complex is known as the Mahabodhi temple complex. It is a pilgrimage for hundreds and thousands of Buddhist pilgrims, who visit the Mahabodhi temple complex from the Buddhist countries all over the world like Japan, China, Myanmar, Srilanka and Thailand. The two chief tourist attractions of the Mahabodhi Temple complex are the 115-year-old peepul tree which stands in the exact spot of the Bodhi tree (long dead now) under which, according to the legend, Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment. Another attraction, of course, is the towering statue of Lord Buddha built by the Japanese.
However, the tentacles of international terrorism did not spare even this pilgrimage site. The Mahabodhi temple complex was ripped apart by nine successive explosions within a span of 15 minutes early morning, last Sunday. Investigations revealed that the bombs used were low intensity cylinder bombs, timer triggered. Four bombs exploded in the temple complex while five others outside the complex. Four monks were injured who are being given treatment at the local government hospital. Two of the monks were foreigners, one from Nepal and the other from Myanmar. The wounds suffered by them are mainly shrapnel wounds but they are stable now. No further casualties have been reported. The explosions caused some damage to the steps leading to the site of the Mahabodhi tree. However, the tree itself, the 80-feet statue of Lord Buddha and the garbhgriha (the sanctum sanctorum), was unaffected by the explosions. Animesh Lochan , a shrine had its doors blown away and the Butter Lamp House was considerably damaged by the explosions. Further, two bombs were defused later in the town and one in a village. The attack involved multiple targets. Two further explosions took place at the Tergar monastery where the monks study Buddhism, and another in front of the building. No real damage was inflicted except some broken window panes. Another explosion tore a hole in a tourist bus near the Tergar Monastery. These are the bombs that went off outside the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Primary investigations suggest that the explosives used were ammonium nitrate, just a refined version of crude fertilizer bombs.
Though no groups have claimed responsibility for the bombing, officials suspect that this atrocity has been committed by the Indian Mujahideen as a direct retaliation to the injustice done to the Muslims in the Buddhist majority state of Myanmar. The irony is that, in spite of repeated warnings starting from October last year from the various intelligence sources that the Mahabodhi Temple Complex might be a potential target of the terrorists, the security in the temple complex was practically non-existent. Perhaps this carnage could have been avoided if the warnings did not fall on deaf ears. One person has been detained on the basis of the sketches made from the CCTV cameras as a suspected perpetrator.
It is evident that these explosions were triggered to create panic. In fact, it was a milk run. Had there been semtex instead of ammonium nitrate and that too strategically placed, the whole Mahabodhi temple complex would have been razed to the ground with an equally appalling death toll, especially if the attack had been during winter when about 10,000 people are present on an average when the temple doors open.
The fact that sticks out like a sore thumb after this incident is that India has been a total failure in fighting terrorism. RAW, CRPF, IB are just big names. Till date they haven’t been able to retaliate against any terrorist attack with proper force. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in US were destroyed on 11/9/2001 as a birthday gift to the infamous Osama Bin Laden. On May 2nd, 2012, Osama bin Laden was eliminated by the US Delta forces in a surgical search and destroy mission. In 1972, during the summer Olympics in Munich, the Israeli Olympic team was butchered by the Black September and the PLO. The details of the operation are classified but according to some sources, Israel killed each and every one of the terrorists, with the last one some 11 years later.
Terrorism is here to stay and it should be dealt with this kind of ruthlessness. But our Government still believes that all terrorist activities are concentrated in Jammu and Kashmir and the atrocities outside those states are mere spillage or isolated incidents but terrorism has seized India by the throat. Lenin once said that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize and terrorism, no doubt, has undoubtedly served its purpose in India.