New Delhi: Were intelligence alerts ignored, warning of possible attacks on Buddhist shrines in India by "fringe elements" sympathetic to the cause of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, scores of who have been killed in sectarian violence? Terror attacks on the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya Sunday left two monks injured.
An official source told IANS that intelligence alerts had been received as recent "as a month ago" warning that fringe elements would try to target Buddhist shrines in India in retaliation to attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine province.
The UN has said that 140,000 people are displaced in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, a year after Buddhist-Muslim clashes killed about 200 people and left much of the region racially and religiously segregated.
According to strategic and defence analyst, Commodore (Retd.) C. Uday Bhaskar the terror attack in Bodh Gaya highlights the inability of the central intelligence agencies and the state police to work in harmony to prevent such incidents.
Stating that it may be premature to jump to hasty conclusions about the identity of the perpetrators and one should wait for the probe to find the evidence, Bhaskar said "there has, however, been reference to inputs from Myanmar about the likelihood of such an attack".
"If this assertion is indeed true - then it brings us back to a perennial weakness of the Indian systemic - the institutional eco-system that deals with the complex challenge of internal security - the inability of the central agencies and the state police to work in harmony and provide actionable intelligence that can enable prevention, pre-emption of such attacks," Bhaskar, Distinguished Fellow at the Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.
He added that Sunday's attack showed "clearly that Buddhist sites are being targeted - and there is disturbing symbolism here".
He added that if the nine serial blasts Sunday at the 1,500-year-old revered shrine were a pointer to domestic turmoil within Myanmar spilling into India, then "this is cause for the amber lights to flicker".
Bhaskar also wondered if the "recent stand-off between the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) led to valuable and limited human resources being expended on inter-agency rivalry, while more serious internal security challenges get neglected?"
Buddhist monks at the Burma Centre Delhi, located in Janakpuri in west Delhi, are deeply pained at the attack on the shrine.
Pyinnya Ziwta, a Buddhist monk at the Burma Centre, said the terror attack could be in retaliation to the clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar. "But the blast in Bodh Gaya, which is a symbol of Buddhism, has hurt sentiments of Buddhists," Ziwta told IANS.
"I personally think the blasts are just a warning bell, as whichever group has carried it out... they have done it during a lean period when the pilgrims are less. From September many pilgrims visit the Bodh Gaya... Now more security should be provided to the pilgrims who visit," Muan Kim, coordinator at Burma Centre Delhi (BCD), told IANS.
"Whoever is behind the blasts, whether it is a Muslim or a Hindu, should know that the temple is a valuable archaeological treasure, which our forefathers left us. How can one think of destroying or damaging it? Whoever carried out the blast are inhuman," Kyan Chotan told IANS.