Temple mulls over banning mobiles, cameras

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The body frisking is meticulous. Metal scanners and detectors are in place and functioning. Every bag is checked and each visitor asked for an identity card.

The multi-layered security apparatus has been tightened at Mahabodhi temple, two days after serial blasts rocked the temple town of Bodh Gaya in Bihar’s Gaya district. The temple is in for a further security upgrade. “There is a three-layered security in place now at the entry points. We are securing the boundaries and the entries,” D. Balamurugan, Gaya District Magistrate and the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) Chairman told The-Hindu.

“We held a security review meeting today. There is a proposal to ban mobile phones, cameras and bags inside the temple premises.”

ID cards for monks

A sub-committee that has been formed will give recommendations on security to the temple body. One such proposal is to give identity cards to resident monks in different monasteries around the temple area.

“Our temple is a little different from the others. We have thousands of devotees coming from the monasteries,” Mr. Balamurugan said. “We have to engage the support of the monasteries to implement security measures. We don’t want to hurt their feelings. There are resident monks in these monasteries and we cannot put them through multiple checks every time. So we are thinking about giving them identity cards. The BTMC has called for a list of resident monks.”

Boundary wall

Meanwhile, the temple authority has appointed an agency to construct a boundary wall on the south side, bypassing the tendering process. The height of the wall was low and this, Mr. Balamurugan said, was “the weakest link” in the security apparatus.

“Since this is an emergency, we have bypassed the tendering process,” he said.

While security was always a part of the temple’s functioning, the multiple blasts have driven home the need for improved measures. This is not the tourist season and inflow into the temple is very thin. In winter, as the season begins, the temple will have to carry out frisking and checks at the entry points.

The State government has requested Central Industrial Security Force cover for the temple.

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