The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two West Bengal residents in Kerala for masterminding terrorist attacks at Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, this January. The two accused, Karim and Mastafizur, affiliated to the terrorist outfit Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, planted three explosive devices (IEDs) at the Mahabodhi temple when the Dalai Lama was visiting the Buddhist shrine on January 19.
The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is a banned terrorist outfit active in the border areas of India and Bangladesh. Investigators said the IEDs had been planted as revenge for alleged atrocities committed against Rohingyas in Myanmar.
The role of few Bangladeshi nationals is also suspected in the case and the agency is looking for them, the NIA officials added.
“We have arrested Murshidabad resident Abdul Karim and Birbhum native Mustafizur Rehman on charges of placing the IEDs in Bodh Gaya on January 19 this year. They were picked up from one of the Bengali colonies in Malappuram in Kerala. Both the accused are being brought to Patna for a court appearance. We will seek their remand further interrogation,” said a senior NIA official to national media.
“The two people arrested were part of the group of around half-a-dozen JMB men who planted the IEDs. Their associates were involved in the Burdwan incident of 2014, when an accidental blast revealed the presence of a huge JMB network in the border region of Bengal. We have reason to believe that a wanted accused in the Burdwan case is the mastermind of the January Bodh Gaya incident,” said the official. The NIA had earlier arrested three other people in the case.
The Mahabodhi temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a holy pilgrim centre for Buddhists across the world. It was not the first time that Islamic terrorists targeted the temple. Earlier, in July 2013, in another terrorist attacks, as many as 10 IEDs went off, causing injuries to five people.
With the highest number of people joining ISIS from Kerala, the state has become a fertile land for Islamic terrorism. The state police have intensified surveillance and tightened security following the arrests. The radical Islamic outfits like Popular Front of India have become very active in the state since the CPM government took over power in 2016.