Published On:11 July 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Bodh Gaya Serial Blasts: Handiwork of Hindutva Terrorists, Muslims and Buddhists prime target?

By Danish Ahmad Khan

With the approaching of Indian parliamentary elections, the communal forces have as usual started devising devious plans to rip apart the secular fabric of the Indian nation. Peace and communal harmony have become the latest casualties. In a dastardly attack, the Mahabodhi Temple complex in the temple town of Bodh Gaya in Gaya district of Bihar state was rocked by nine serial explosions on Sunday, July 7, 2013 morning. Though the blasts were of low intensity in which three tourists and two Buddhist monks were injured. No sooner had the blasts occurred, Indian TV channels and Hindutva terror forces ganged up and started targeting Muslims (as is the normal fashion with these elements as soon as a terror strike takes place somewhere in India) shouting from the rooftop that Indian Mujahideen was behind the attacks to take revenge from Buddhists for the massacre of hapless Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. It seemed as though Indian TV channels and Hindutva terror forces were already knowing beforehand that the Mahabodhi Temple complex was going to be targeted by none else than the Indian Mujahideen, and that too, only after the acrimonious split between JD(U) and BJP from Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government.

But there is more behind these serial blasts than meets the eyes. Let us see point-by-point where the needle of suspicion after all points to and who are the real culprits behind these cowardly acts.

Why Bodh Gaya blasts only before advent of Ramadan?

The timing of Bodh Gaya serial blasts and the targeting of Muslims have much to tell behind this game plan, which clearly seems to have been implemented by Hindutva terrorism forces. The fact that the blasts took place only a few days before the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan cannot be ignored. The fact that the serial blasts took place in the wee hours with the help of locally manufactured bombs cannot be lost sight of either. After all, what does the timing of the blasts point out? The reasons are obvious and simple to reckon. The blasts took place in early morning with an intent to inflict minimal damage both to the Mahabodhi Temple complex and lives of people, and at the same time terrorize the tourists, Buddhist monks and pilgrims and create animosity against Muslims. The blasts were carried out with a specific purpose of disturbing peace in Gaya and simultaneously target Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government for its failure to heed to earlier intelligence inputs and provide more security to the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Had the blasts taken place in the midst of holy month of Ramadan, it would have been entirely difficult for the Hindutva terror goons to target Muslims as they are doing with a flourish now in association with their chums the Indian TV channels.

Targeting the Mahabodhi Temple complex is not the only exception. Hindutva forces have always been trying to target places of worship in Gaya and disturb peace. In April 2012, communal forces targeted Muslim mosques, indulged in heavy stone pelting in mosques and set Muslim-owned shops on fire. All this was done during Ramnavmi procession, which was allowed to pass through disputed routes instead of traditional ones on the instruction by Kotwali SHO and at the behest of Hindutva leaders. Earlier only 26 Ramnavmi processions were allowed in Gaya town, but this time 60 processions were permitted. People of Gaya had then alleged that more than one hundred Shiv Sainiks were exported from outside Bihar to create mayhem and orchestrate communal riots in Gaya.

It is therefore not hard to believe that serial blasts at Mahabodhi Temple complex could be the handiwork of Hindutva terror forces. It is common knowledge that Hindutva terror elements are known to target or usurp places of worship of other faiths.

Hindus and Buddhists at loggerheads over Mahabodhi Temple

Hindus and Buddhists have been constantly at loggerheads over the control of management of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Buddhists have for long been demanding undiluted and complete control over the management of Mahabodhi Temple complex. The Mahabodhi Vihara (temple) was under Brahminical control during 1800s when a Hindu Mahanth (Caretaker) was controlling the temple. Anagarika Dharmapala, a Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrim, visited the Mahabodhi Temple in 1891 and was shocked to see the temple in a pitiable condition. The Hindu Mahanth was doing nothing for the care or upkeep of the temple and was instead expropriating the generous donations and offerings made by the Buddhist pilgrims. Dharmapala vowed to free the temple from the clutches of the Mahanth and initiated an international campaign to re-establish Buddhist control over the Mahabodhi Temple. An infuriated Mahanth even ordered physical attacks and elimination of Dharmapala. But he survived the attacks, remained undeterred and moved forward on his mission to bring the Mahabodhi Temple under complete Buddhist control.

Buddhists from all over the world have since been struggling to demand that the Mahabodhi Temple must come under the control of Buddhists only. Even Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and the Indian National Congress had promised the Buddhists at Gaya Conference in 1922 that Mahabodhi Vihara would be handed over to them after India gained Independence from the British colonial rule.

Rabindra Nath Tagore, a Nobel Laureate, had also favored Buddhist control over the Mahabodhi Temple. Tagore even wrote an article in the Martibhumi journal in 1922. Tagore wrote thus: "I am sure it will be admitted by all Hindus who are true to their own ideals that it is an intolerable wrong to allow the temple raised on the spot where Buddha attained enlightenment to remain under the control of rival sect, which can neither have an intimate knowledge of, nor respect for Buddhist religion and its right of worship."

However, this promise has remained unfulfilled and Hindus continue to have a major say in the management of Mahabodhi Temple denying Buddhists their rightful due. The Buddhists have been demanding that the Bodh Gaya Temple Act 1949, which was enacted by a committee constituted by Bihar Government and headed by the first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad, should be repealed to pave the way for the constitution of an all-Buddhist committee to manage the affairs of the Mahabodhi Temple. Even former Bihar Governor R.S. Gavai and Bihar State Religious Trust Board chief Acharya Kishore Kunal had worked on a compromise formula to end the controversy. According to the formula the Hindu representation in the nine-man committee was brought down to four from the existing five to make the Mahabodhi Temple committee more balanced. The post of committee chairman was also made religious neutral and the post of secretary reserved for the Buddhists. The Gaya District Magistrate is the ex officio Chairman of the committee provided he/she is a Hindu. In the case of Gaya DM being a non-Hindu, the state government has to nominate a Hindu as Chairman of the temple committee. Such a situation arose only once when in 1960s a Muslim KM Zuberi became Gaya DM, and the state government had to nominate Jugeshwar Prasad Khalish, MLC, as the Chairman of Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee.

The Supreme Court of India had on September 22, 2012 admitted a petition seeking transfer of exclusive management rights of 2,500 year old Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, a world Heritage site since 2002, to the Buddhists from the Bihar government. Notices were issued to the Centre, Bihar government and Archaeological Survey of India by a bench of Justices Altamas Kabir (who later became Chief Justice of India) and J. Chelameswar on a petition by Bhadant Arya Nagarjun Surai Sasai. The Advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner had contended that the management of the holiest Buddhist shrine by persons from other religions hurt the religious sentiments of the Buddhists and questioned the constitutional validity of provisions of 60-year-old Bodh Gaya Temple Management Act 1949, which permitted it.

Politicians ditched Buddhists

The Buddhist history in India was rediscovered by Alexander Cunnigham, Edwin Arnold, Hamilton Buchanan, Rajendralal Mitra, and many others. Many British administrators were also instrumental in the restoration, protection and preservation of the Mahabodhi Temple.

The Indian politicians have, however, always ditched the Buddhists in their struggle to regain complete Buddhist control over the temple committee. The politicians, most of them being Hindus, have sided only with Hindus in this case. On October 14, 1992, a Japanese monk, Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Surai Sasai had launched a movement for the liberation of the Mahabodhi Temple from Hindu oppression by organizing a big rally at New Delhi's Boat Club which was attended by over 3 lakh Buddhists from India and foreign countries. But in the next four years nothing significant happened because Buddhists were ditched by the then Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav and later on by his successor and wife Rabri Devi. Both Laloo Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi during their respective tenure as Chief Minister went back on their earlier promise of support to the Buddhist agitation launched by Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Surai Sasai, thus leaving the Buddhists in the doldrums. The RSS had then also claimed credit for mobilizing the Hindu opposition against the Buddhists. Today, it is apparent that RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav and Hindutva forces seem to have joined hands, shedding crocodile tears over Bodh Gaya serial blasts and questioning Nitish Kumar's failure to provide more security to the Mahabodhi Temple complex.

No retribution against Rohingya Muslim massacre in Myanmar

Given the Hindutva terror forces' prevailing animosity and hatred against both Muslims and Buddhists, it is absolutely wrong to accuse either Maoists or Muslims over this ghastly Bodh Gaya serial blasts, which is highly condemnable. Maoists have never been known to have targeted places of worship of other faiths. It is therefore wrong to implicate Maoists in this regard.

Insofar as Indian Muslims are concerned, it is true that on humanitarian grounds they have peacefully protested against the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as is being done elsewhere in the world. But staging violent protests is simply out of question and has never been done. In fact, we Indian Muslims have never wanted Rohingya Muslims to seek any kind of shelter or asylum in India. We believe that Rohingya Muslims are essentially of Bangladeshi origin. We consider both Pakistan and Bangladesh as failed nations. Ever since India's partition and the creation of Muslim nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh, we Indian Muslims have been facing the heat and rampant discrimination in every aspect of our daily lives, particularly housing, employment and education. So, we have no sympathy left for Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims. Attributing the retribution angle and harping on this issue constantly by Hindutva terror forces and India TV channels is simply nonsensical and clearly points to their inimical behavior towards Indian Muslims and mala fide intentions.

Over the past several years the Buddhists of Myanmar and Sri Lanka are increasingly taking to violence. But I have always found the Indian Buddhists to be peace loving. Being a native of Gaya myself, I had got the privilege of playing Badminton with some Buddhist monks who used to visit my residence. Even the Dalai Lama regularly donates prayer mattresses to a Muslim madrassa in Bodh Gaya near the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Muslims of Gaya have always been on good terms with Buddhists in Bodh Gaya and maintained a harmonious relation with them. The peculiarity of Gaya has been that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians and people of other faiths have been living in complete harmony since ages, never let any communal riots take place since Independence, and have together fought the communal forces keeping them at bay.

Bring culprits to justice. End animosity towards Muslims!

Bodh Gaya serial blasts is being seen in several quarters an outcome of the vicious fight between BJP leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over Prime Ministerial ambitions as the Indian parliamentary elections gradually approaches. After the ruling combine JD(U) and BJP split after being in power for over 17 years, Narendra Modi had a day before Bodh Gaya serial blasts asked his party cadres to teach Nitish Kumar a lesson. Considering the fissiparous tendencies of Hindutva terror forces and their eternal potential to disturb communal harmony in the country, the Bodh Gaya serial blasts need to be seen strongly and seriously from this perspective as well.

The NIA and other intelligence agencies must probe all the angels related to the cowardly Bodh Gaya serial blasts. The culprits must be immediately apprehended and brought to justice. Extra precaution needs to be taken, particularly in non-Congress ruled states, as Hindutva forces are at their game plan in deepening the communal divide and vitiating the peaceful atmosphere in the country. Blind hatred and animosity against Muslims in India must end now.

[Danish Ahmad Khan, Founder-Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com, is a native of Gaya and currently based at New Delhi. He can be contacted at danishkhan@indianmuslimosberver.com]

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