| Bihar Military Police guard the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya after the July 7 blasts. Telegraph picture |
Patna, Oct. 28: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is yet to arrive at a conclusion about the involvement of a terror outfit in the Mahabodhi Mahavihara serial blasts.
The temple in Bodhgaya and its surrounding areas had witnessed nine blasts on July 7 this year.
The NIA, which was assigned the probe by the Union home ministry on the recommendation of the state police headquarters in July, has not been able to pinpoint the terror group responsible for the blasts in which two Buddhist monks were hurt.
Sources said the NIA launched an operation to ascertain the whereabouts of Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu, a native of Samastipur in north Bihar, for his alleged involvement in the Bodhgaya blasts, the first such incident in the state. An NIA team questioned Tehseen’s father recently.
A senior NIA officer said so far 200 suspects, including a few Maoist leaders hailing from Magadh region, have been interrogated.
“We have confirmed from where the ammonium nitrate was sourced for carrying out the blasts,” he said.
He added that the agency was not in a hurry to disclose the name of the group as it intended to gather substantial evidence against the perpetrators as well as conspirators of the crime.
The agency was also probing the role of a senior Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Mirza Sadad Beg, a native of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.
Beg’s role came under the scanner of the agency after the revelations of alleged co-founder of the outfit, Yasin Bhatkal alias Mohammad Ahmad Zarar Siddibapa.
Bhatkal, who was arrested near Raxaul on the India-Nepal border on August 29, had reportedly told the interrogators that the IM had done a recce of the Buddhist holy shrine. He, however, refused his direct links with the group responsible for the blasts.
Sources in the NIA said Beg’s name had also figured in the two major blast incidents allegedly carried out by the IM in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur and Varanasi in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Though Beg fled the country after the explosions, he reportedly returned to India a few months ago.
An investigating officer associated with the Bodhgaya blast said Beg was heading a faction of the outfit operating in the country.
“There are two factions of the IM active in India — one headed by me (Bhatkal) and another by Beg,” the officer quoted Bhatkal as saying.
Bhatkal, who hails from Karnataka, however, did not rule out the possibility of another faction’s involvement in the Bodhgaya blast.
“I am not aware of the activities being carried out by the faction led by Beg,” Bhatkal reportedly told the interrogators.
The officer said that Beg was an old member of the outfit and had been actively involved in anti-India activities.
“The agency is trying to ascertain the whereabouts of Beg to confirm his role in the Bodhgaya blasts,” he added.
The agency has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information on Waqas alias Ahmed Javed, who was suspected to be hiding in Bihar. Photograph and details of Waqas, a Pakistani national, has been uploaded on the NIA website.