The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 14 , 2014
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Monk mobile security scare

- Lack of proper apparatus at entrance leads to detention of pilgrim

The inconvenience pilgrims and tourists face while entering the World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara owing to the inadequacy of proper security apparatus was again felt on Tuesday when a Buddhist monk tried to enter the campus with a cellphone.

Ten months have passed since the Bodhgaya serial bomb blasts, but hand-held metal detectors, four doorframe metal detectors and 16 closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), grossly inadequate, are what the security personnel on duty have to rely upon in the name of securing the sprawling Mahavihara campus.

On Tuesday, security personnel detained Bhikkhu Anand of Maharashtra’s Buldana district for sometime for carrying a cellphone and interrogated him.

The entry of all electronic gadgets apart from footwear and baggage has been banned inside the Mahavihara since the blasts in July last year.

The monk, however, was subsequently allowed entry after depositing the cellphone at the counter opened outside the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) office, around 150m from the campus main gate, and verification of his identity, said police.

Pilgrims and tourists, who come here in search of peace, have to undergo a three-layer security check, including frisking, passing through doorframe metal detectors and checking by hand-held metal detectors. All of them find these procedures bothersome.

Modern security apparatus could make things streamlined. Plans to install a baggage scanner, six more CCTVs, which could rotate 360º, and other modern security apparatus on the Mahavihara campus have apparently been stuck because of the model code of conduct, which came into force following the announcement of the general election. The decision to install the security equipment was taken after the July 2013 blasts.

Later, Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Vihar All India Action Committee general secretary Bhikkhu Anand Mahasthavir told The Telegraph about the monk from Maharashtra with an All India Bhikkhu Sangha identity card who told security personnel that he would not go inside the Mahavihara but would just take a photograph of the shrine from the main entrance.

“However, the security personnel insisted that he deposited the cellphone. Irked by the security personnel’s behaviour, the monk retaliated but later regretted his behaviour,” Bhikkhu Anand Mahasthavir said. The committee has been spearheading an agitation since long for total control of Buddhists over BTMC.

General secretary Bhikkhu Anand Mahasthavir said there was a need for deployment of tourist-friendly security personnel and installation of modern security apparatus. Tourists from across the globe who speak different languages visit Bodhgaya and the Mahabodhi Mahavihara. Security personnel who can understand their languages must be deployed. “We have come to know that Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel would be deployed at the Mahavihara, which too is yet to be implemented,” said Bhikkhu Anand Mahasthavir.

Reports claimed that installation of modern security apparatus was under process at the level of the state police headquarters. A tender has been floated for this but its implementation has been delayed owing to the Lok Sabha elections. Elections over, the process is likely to be expedited.

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