NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency has slapped the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Delivery System (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act in the January 19 Bodh Gaya blast case, the first time the Act has been invoked by any investigative agency in a purported terror attack.
On February 3, the NIA had registered a case in Delhi in connection with the blast near the Buddhist shrine after taking over the probe from Bihar police following a directive from the Internal Security-I Division of the Union Home Ministry.
A flask kept under a generator at a kitchen set up near Gate No 4 of the compound of the Mahabodhi Temple had exploded around 4.45pm on January 19, when the Dalai Lama was in Bodh Gaya.
Subsequent searches by the Bihar police had led to the recovery of two IEDs — one near South Gate No. 5 of the Kalachakra Maidan in the vicinity and another in front of the Mahabodhi Society of India— after which a case was filed.
Sections of the WMD Act have been applied based on prima facie suspicion that the IED recovered from South Gate No. 5 — packed in an unusually large flask — was made of material falling under the category of weapons of mass destruction.
The exact nature or the category of the material will, however, be determined only after the forensic analysis test reports are available, agency sources said, adding the material could be a toxin (chemical) intended for mass killing.
Sections 14, 17 and 19 of the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Delivery System (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005, have been applied in the case, according to the FIR, a copy of which is with Express.
The Act is aimed at prosecuting persons accused of unlawful activities relating to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, including those comprising nuclear, toxin (chemical) and bacteriological (biological) materials.
The Act provides for punishment that could range from a minimum of five years and go up to life imprisonment, along with a fine. India is committed to its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction.
The Act was enacted in 2005 as part of integrated legal measures to exercise control over the export of materials, equipment and technologies and to prohibit unlawful activities in relation to weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
The case has also slapped Section 16, 18 and 20 of the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, provisions of the Indian Penal Code relating to conspiracy, waging war against the nation and promoting enmity between groups, besides the Explosive Substances Act.
The NIA has registered the case against unknown persons but is likely to take custody of two Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh operatives arrested by the anti-terrorist squad of Bihar Police from Kolkata in connection with the case.
In a first, NIA slaps Weapons of Mass Destruction and Delivery System (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act in the January 19 Bodh Gaya blast case
The Act attracts a minimum punishment of five years’ imprisonment and can extend to life along with fine
The case marks a major shift in terror tactics by Pakistan’s ISI and its affiliates
A flask kept under a generator at a kitchen set up near Gate No 4 of the compound of the Mahabodhi Temple had exploded around 4:45pm on January 19, when the Dalai Lama was in Bodh Gaya