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One held, five suspects detained in Bodh Gaya blasts

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   9 July 2013 4:50 PM GMT
Five people, including a woman, were detained Tuesday from Patna and Gaya and interrogated by the NIA in connection with the serial bomb explosions at Bodh Gaya's Mahabodhi temple in Bihar, police officials said. Another man detained Sunday from Gaya district has been formally arrested.

Four of the detained suspects had stayed at a hotel in Bodh Gaya Saturday night and checked out within an hour of the explosions early Sunday, said police sources, adding that investigators narrowed down on the suspects using the CCTV footage of 16 cameras at the temple.

Chandan Kushwaha, a police official from Gaya district, confirmed the arrest of suspect Vinod Mishtri, who was detained Sunday.

Another Bihar Police official, who did not wish to be named, said: "Four people, suspected to be involved in the serial bomb blasts, were detained in Patna city and a man was detained from Sonbarsha village in Gaya district."

Those detained in Patna were identified as Gunjan Patel, Hasan Malik, Anand Prakash and Priyanka. From Gaya, Dashrath Yadav was detained by the investigators, the official said.

"Four of those detained stayed at Tathagat International hotel in Bodh Gaya Saturday night and they visited the temple premises early Sunday... they checked out from the hotel within an hour after the serial blasts," a police official said.

According to police officials, after their detention the five suspects were taken to an undisclosed place for interrogation by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) team.

They were among the six people spotted in the footage and suspected to be involved in the bombings in which two people were injured, he said.

A police official involved in scanning the footage said the suspects' movements close to the temple gate and wall, hours before the blasts, were captured on the CCTV.

The CCTV footage showed that three people entered the temple premises through unspecified entry points and two others stood near the gate close to the car they came in. One of them, who is the tallest, carried a bag on his shoulder, he said.

But the poor quality of the footage of 16 functional CCTV cameras was posing a problem for investigators, said an official.

Police had issued a look-out notice for six people who had been working with the Bodh Gaya's Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee for the last six months and were suspected to be absconding since the explosions, a police official said.

"The look-out notice was issued on the information from the committee," a police official said.

The investigators said some of the "missing" former employees were the suspects spotted in the CCTV footage.

The NIA had questioned Mishtri after he was detained late Sunday evening from a village under Barachatti police station in Gaya district, over 100 km from Patna.

The Bodh Gaya temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is where the Buddha, who was born in neighbouring Nepal, attained enlightenment around 2,500 years ago.