PATNA: A possible terrorist plot to blow up the Mahabodhi temple in Bihar's Bodh Gaya was exposed on Saturday after a live bomb was recovered by a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the local police near the Kalachakra grounds in the holy town.
Police officials said the bomb was found in a toilet near the Kalachakra grounds on the basis of leads provided by a terror suspect arrested by NIA on Friday. Alok Mittal, NIA spokesperson, said it was a "hand grenade" and that it was defused.
With the state executive meeting of Bihar's ruling BJP having taken place in Bodh Gaya three days ago, news of the recovery of the bomb created a stir. Police and NIA officials, however, did not clarify if the bomb was planted recently or in January, when three powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs), each weighing about 10 kg, were planted in the Mahabodhi temple.
"The bomb was recovered on the basis of leads provided by Dilawar Hussain alias Qamar, a terror suspect hailing from Malda in West Bengal who was arrested by NIA on Friday. He was brought to Bodh Gaya and interrogated," said a senior police official.
Sources said it was possible that the bomb was planted in January, when some low-intensity explosives were recovered near the Kalchakra grounds when the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers, including Hollywood star Richard Gere and hundreds of foreign tourists, were in the town for a congregation.
On January 19, a low-intensity crude bomb had exploded and two IEDs were recovered near the Kalchakra grounds. The NIA, which took up the probe, later arrested seven accused who were found to have links with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terrorist outfit active in the border areas of India and Bangladesh.
Security was beefed up in Bodh Gaya after the bomb's recovery, which revived memories of the serial blasts in the town on July 7, 2013. Ten bombs had exploded that day in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex and five people, including two Buddhists monks, were injured.