On Friday, a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Patna handling the 2018 Bodh Gaya serial bomb blasts case sentenced 3 accused to life imprisonment and awarded ten years detention to 5 others. On December 10, the NIA court headed by Guruminder Singh Malhotra had pronounced the 8 as guilty.
The original complaint was registered on February 3, 2018, and concerns the planting of three IEDs in and around the premises of the temple complex at Bodh Gaya called the Mahabodhi Temple. One IED exploded while the rest were defused. After investigation, a charge sheet was filed against the three accused on September 27, 2018. A supplementary charge sheet was filed on January 28, 2019, against the remaining six terrorists.
Paigambar Sheikh, Ahmad Ali and Nur Alam Momin were awarded life while Abdul Karim, Arif Hussain, Adil Sheikh, Dilwar Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman were given the 10-year jail term. They are all members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a terror organization banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which acted as the brain behind the entire conspiracy. All 8 of them admitted to their crimes.
However, another accused, Mohammed Zahidul Islam, didn’t confess his involvement in the incident. Zahidul is Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen’s top leader and the kingpin of the bomb blasts case. Officials added that further trial against him will continue.
The bomb blasts
On January 19th, 2018 an IED that was placed under a generator set near Kal Chakra maidan in Bodh Gaya exploded. It was intended to take out Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama and the governor of Bihar. They were at the Bodhgaya Buddhist temple premises and the Dalai Lama was there for delivering his sermons.
Fortunately, the blast took place a few minutes after the Buddhist monk ended his religious sermon. Unfortunately, two monks suffered splinter injuries in the explosion. All the accused then went into hiding in various Southern states of Bharat.
Within hours of the blast, security forces discovered and defused three more IEDs from the Mahabodhi temple. One IED was placed in front of a Sri Lankan monastery. The Dalai Lama was staying in a Tibetan monastery, located just next to the Lankan one. A number of foreign tourists, mostly monks, were in attendance when the blast occurred.
Karim was an expert at assembling IEDs and was involved in conspiracy and planning. Rehman collected material for the IED and conducted a recce of the place. Zahidul with the help of the other co-accused, made 3 IEDs and two hand grenades while Sheikh, Hossain and Hussain planted the bombs on the premises of the temple on 19 January.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) top terrorist Mohammed Zahidul Islam
Zahidul Islam is a dreaded terrorist who had escaped from a prison van when he was been taken to a court in Bangladesh. This was back in 2014. Bangladesh police managed to kill one terrorist and arrest another who had fled from the van but Zahid-Ul-Islam escaped and then slipped into Bharat via Assam and finally ended up in West Bengal.
As per the NIA charge sheet, the terror plot was hatched as part of jihad to avenge the alleged atrocities against Rohingyas in Myanmar by waging a war on Bharat. Zahidul had direct links with the JMB and upon orders from handlers had established their roots in Bharat. The convicts traveled to Hyderabad, Chennai and other southern cities and hatched the conspiracy.
The terrorists were in contact with each other and assembled at various places. To avoid detection, they arranged hideouts near Jehanabad and Masaurhi and did recons of the Bodh Gaya temple. They also procured the explosives and material for the fabrication of the IEDs
NIA arrested Zahidul Islam, resident of Jamalpur in Bangladesh, and Adil Sheikh alias Asadullah, resident of Murshidabad in West Bengal, in August 2018 from their hiding place near Ramanagar in Bengaluru. NIA sleuths also nabbed two West Bengal natives from Kerala’s Malappuram district, where they had been hiding. Abdul Karim from Murshidabad district and Mustafizur Rehman from Birbhum district were arrested on a Friday from a labor camp in Malappuram.
NIA officials confirmed that the accused, who escaped after committing the terror act, were hiding in various locations in and around Bengaluru and other places. Even while in hiding, they committed several dacoities in those places to raise funds for their criminal activities.
All the convicts were later taken to the central jail at Beur near Patna under tight security arrangements.
All 9 terrorists are also accused in the West Bengal Burdwan blast case and have dacoity cases for funding the JMB terror network in Bengaluru. Both cases are being handled by the NIA.
Incidentally, a series of explosions at the Mahabodhi temple had injured five including two monks in July 2013. Local mujahideen terrorists were behind those ten blasts, including a juvenile. The Central Industrial Security Force was handed over the security of the temple after that incident.