The Telegraph
Monday , March 10 , 2014
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Security step-up follows blast threat to temple, Mahavihara

Security has been tightened after somebody called up Gaya district magistrate Balamurugan D. on his cellphone on Saturday and threatened to blow up the Vishnupad temple in Gaya and Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya.

A similar threat was repeated on the district magistrate’s office landline too.

Gaya police swung into action right away. Gaya senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nishant Kumar Tiwary told The Telegraph on Sunday that the caller has been traced to Patna. The Patna police were informed and the caller identified, he said. The verification process was on till filing of the report.

“We immediately initiated necessary security measures. A dog squad and the bomb defusing squad were rushed to the Vishnupad temple area where they conducted a thorough search. No trace of explosives or objectionable material was found there,” Tiwary said.

District magistrate Balamurugan D. said a security committee had been constituted for the Vishnupad temple after the serial blasts in Bodhgaya on July 7 last year. The panel meets at regular intervals. “The district magistrate and the SSP reviewed security arrangements at Vishnupad temple and Mahabodhi Mahavihara on Sunday,” Balamurugan said.

The SSP said police patrolling had been intensified around both places.

The Mahabodhi Mahavihara is already under surveillance. Jawans of the Bihar Military Police (BMP) have been deployed in and around the Mahavihara, apart from the district police and counter insurgency anti -terrorist squad (CIAT) jawans.

Entry with electronic gadgets, including cellphones, laptops and cameras, is banned at the Mahavihara.

The police have also prepared a proposal to install an x-ray machine towards north of the Mahavihara so that any objectionable material can be immediately scanned.

In fact, the state police headquarters has even sanctioned funds for installation of the x-ray machine at the world heritage site.

As of now, devotees and tourists have to go through a doorframe metal detector and security personnel also check them with hand-held metal detectors at the Mahavira. Three doorframe metal detectors have also been installed at the Vishnupad temple entry points.

Security personnel have been deployed in plain clothes in and around the temple to identify any suspicious or objectionable items in the area.

Mahabodhi Mahavihara draws Buddhists devotees from the world over. Tourists from abroad, too, visit in large numbers from October to February.

Vishnupad is where Hindu devotees from the world over offer pinddaan rituals all through the year to bring salvation to the souls of their departed ancestors.

The devotees throng the place during the 17-day-long Pitripaksh, which falls in September. Immediately after getting information about the threat call from the district magistrate, the SSP asked for details and location of the cellphone from which the threat call was made.

The SSP also sounded director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand, who was meeting officials at the office of Magadh range deputy inspector-general (DIG) of police on Saturday.

The DGP, too, directed for a thorough investigation of the matter.

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