Arrests carried out by STF of Bihar Police
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Tuesday made its first breakthrough in the probe into the serial blasts on the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodh Gaya with the arrest of four persons, including a young woman, in the state capital.
The arrests, which came two days after Sunday’s explosions, were carried out by a special task force of the Bihar Police, which was constituted to help the NIA in its investigation.
Sources said those detained will be taken to Bodh Gaya and handed over to the NIA team. It is believed that they arrived at the temple in an Indica car and an auto-rickshaw around 3 am on Sunday. According to CCTV footage, they left barely two hours before the explosions.
The breakthrough assumes significance as Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is scheduled to visit Bodh Gaya on Wednesday. The arrests were made on the basis of the CCTV footage and mobile phone intercepts.
The investigating agency had earlier dispatched teams to Darbhanga, from where suspected Indian Mujahideen operatives were arrested in 2012 in the Delhi, Bangalore and Pune blasts cases.
A police source said the explosions at Bodh Gaya were triggered by analogue timer clocks set for 5:30 am. “This was similar to the bombs used in the Delhi, Pune and Ahmedabad blasts, where the timers were set for a 12-hour period. The explosives (ammonium nitrate) were packed carefully in cylinders, each weighing about 2.5 kg,” said the source.
The NIA team has also been analysing hard disk of the computer which records the CCTV footage. Initially, it was planned to release sketches of suspects on the basis of the footage, but poor picture quality proved to be a deterrent. Till now, the NIA team has not found anybody entering the temple complex with cylinders. These small LPG cylinders are sold in open market illegally. They are quite popular among students and daily wage labourers.
The NIA team suspects that the perpetrators had probably scaled the rear wall of the temple complex with the cylinders or sneaked them under the “civara,” a loose saffron robe worn by Buddhist monks.
The investigating agency also questioned Vinod Mistry, a local carpenter, for the second consecutive day. He was arrested late on Sunday in his residence at Barachatti, some 25 km from Bodh Gaya. The police had found his identity card at the blast site.
It has come to light that the 30-year-old youth was a carpenter and worked as a private tourist guide in Bodh Gaya. A father of four children, Mistry was recently asked by a temple in Bodh Gaya to make a chariot for the upcoming Rath Yatra.