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Jehanabad halt before blast

Patna: Suspected Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operatives had stored explosives in a house in Jehanabad before those were planted outside the Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya on January 19.

This came to the fore during interrogation of two JMB men - Mohammad Jiarul and Mohammad Paigambar - after a joint National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Kolkata police's special task force team nabbed them recently.

A senior police official said on Friday that Jiarul and Paigambar - believed to be close to the banned outfit's new chief Salauddin Ahmed alias Salauddin Islam - told interrogators that those assigned the task of planting the EIDs at Bodhgaya were in constant touch with them. "They met us in Kolkata before leaving for Bodhgaya," the police officer quoted Jiarul and Paigambar as saying. He said the operatives had hired a house on rent at Jehanabad a month before execution of the plan.

On Friday, an anti-terrorism squad (ATS) team of Bengal police visited the house in Jehanabad and inquired about the occupants.

The suspects had passed themselves off as hawkers who sold cloths door-to-door. "They had rented a house from where they could easily travel to their destination. It was close to the railway station and bus stand," another police officer said.

"We just cooperated with the investigating team," Jehanabad superintendent of police (SP) Manish Kumar said. "As far the Bodhgaya blast probe is concerned, Jehanabad police have no role to play."

But he admitted the house at Kutuban Chak in Jehanabad was used for subversive activities. "Residents Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Saddam helped the suspects get rented accommodation," he said. The police have no records on Rizwan or Saddam.

"We are not supposed to share any information regarding the case. The NIA is investigating it and different investigating agencies have lent their support," Manish told The Telegraph.

The Bengal ATS earlier visited places in Bodhgaya where the three bombs were planted. One of the bombs, however, exploded near a tea stall adjacent to Kalchakra Maidan where the Dalai Lama used to deliver his sermon every day. National Security Guards personnel defused the remaining two bombs.

"The Bengal ATS is trying to corroborate the statements of the two arrested JMB operatives," said a member of the visiting team. "There is great similarity between the explosives seized from Jiarul and Paigambar in Bengal and those in Bodhgaya. Even the bags containing explosives were of the same make and brand," said a member of the visiting team.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity the officer said the wire device and quality of raw material (ammonium nitrate) were also the same. "Hence the involvement of JMB operatives in the Bodhgaya incident on January 19 cannot be ruled out," the officer said, adding that another suspected JMB operative was arrested from Sadardirhi in Murshidabad district of Bengal a couple of days ago.

Both Jiarul and Paighambar had told a Gaya police team that visited Bengal early this year, that the motive behind the Bodhgaya incident was to extract revenge for the continued genocide and torture of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

They said JMB was regrouping under Salauddin, who wanted to target places frequented by Buddhist pilgrims.

Earlier, on July 7, 2013, the suspected activists of the Simi and Indian Mujahideen had exploded bombs near Mahabodhi Mahavihar, leading to injuries to two Buddhist monks.

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