The Telegraph
Monday , July 7 , 2014
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Blast jitters call for hi-tech security

Security at the World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara has been tightened a year after the Bodhgaya serial blasts but the paraphernalia needs upgrade, funds for which have already been released.

The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) and the district administration are making all efforts to ensure tourist-friendly security arrangements at the Mahavihara. Gaya district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Agarwal and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Nishant Kumar Tiwary on Saturday reviewed the arrangements at the Mahavihara and the Vishnupad temple.

Over the past year, Bihar Military Police (BMP) and district police jawans have been deployed in and around the Mahavihara though there are proposals such as installation of baggage scanner and more closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) in addition to the existing 16.

SSP Tiwary said installation of the baggage scanner and the CCTVs has to be done at the police headquarters level, funds for the purchase of which have been released and would be made available in Bodhgaya shortly.

At present, more than 200 Bihar Military Police (BMP) men and women personnel have been deployed in the Mahavihara. Steps to tighten security include raising the height of the boundary wall in the outer circle of the Mahavihara, up to 15ft, construction of watch towers at four corners, ban on the entry of all electronic gadgets, including cellphones, cameras and laptops, apart from any type of baggage. A counter has been set up near the gate of the BTMC office, around 200m from the Mahavihara entrance, where devotees have to deposit their electronic gadgets, baggage and footwear. Separate entry and exit routes have come up for devotees and the tourists visiting the Mahavihara.

Bhikkhu Priyapala, monk-in-charge of Chakma Buddhist temple in Bodhgaya, said: “Visitors have to undergo frisking before entering the Mahavihara. Sometimes, this irks monks, devotees and tourists. Installation of latest security gadgets can help.”

The SSP said two police officers and 10 special auxiliary police (SAP) jawans armed with sophisticated weapons would be deployed at the Vishnupad temple in addition to the existing deployment of a havildar, four SAP jawans, four policewomen and 10 counter-insurgency anti-terrorist squad jawans.

Mahavihara chief monk Bhikkhu Chalinda said BTMC recently passed a proposal to install 24 Internet Protocol-based high-frequency cameras. Two of these 24 cameras would rotate at 360-degree angle. A control room has been constructed near the Mahavihara reception. These IP-based cameras would be connected with computer monitors through the Internet and the cameras would be monitored from the control room. BTMC also got two doorframe metal detectors, including one near the main gate and another at the reception, with latest technology, installed.

A special peace prayer on the campus of World Heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya, aimed at delivering the message of peace across the globe, would be held on Monday. Representatives of all religions apart from the monasteries in Bodhgaya would take part in the prayer.

A huge rush of devotees would begin in Gaya with the 17-day-long Pitripaksh Mela beginning at Vishnupad temple from September 8. The tourist season would set in from the beginning of October.