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Bodh Gaya blasts probe handed over to NIA

Bodh Gaya blasts probe handed over to NIA

New Delhi: The Centre has handed over the BodhGaya blasts investigation to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). This followed after the Bihar government sent a formal request to this effect.

The NIA probe will enable assigning of a dedicated team to investigate all aspects of the case, including possible inter-state linkages. With the likely role of indigenous radical outfits sympathetic to the cause of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims also under the scanner, the NIA will examine possible foreign links as well.

However, the agency faces the onerous task of working out the case with only bomb remnants and grainy CCTV footage for "clues".

Sources said the make of the bombs, especially the use of small cylinders, pointed to the involvement of an Indian outfit, or at least a local link. As for the CCTV footage from the nearly 15 cameras installed at the Bodh Gaya complex, they have only yielded hazy images of suspicious people moving around the blast sites hours before the bombs went off.

Though the home ministry had all the papers ready by afternoon for transfer of probe to NIA, it only issued the order late on Tuesday evening after a formal request from Bihar government. Though the NIA Act empowers the home ministry to suo motu transfer a terror investigation to the agency, the Centre, mindful of federal concerns, chose to proceed with prior consent of the State government.

Even as the investigators undertake a massive hunt for leads, scanning records of phone calls made in Gaya and mounting checks at hotels, lodges and transit points, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will visit Bodh Gaya on Wednesday to review the situation. Shinde, to be accompanied by Union home secretary Anil Goswami, will also meet the injured persons.

According to a home ministry official, the CCTV footage from the blast site may only serve to indicate the possible time, number and activities of "suspects" ahead of the blasts. The resolution of the CCTV recordings leaves much to be desired. The facial features of those believed to be suspects by the state police are not clearly visible.

Senior home ministry officials said the help of forensic laboratories and other agencies may be taken to enhance the CCTV footage. The NIA, they added, may turn to the FBI to help sharpen the CCTV images at its state-of-the-art facilities in the US, just as it had done after the German Bakery blasts and the more recent Hyderabad terror bombings.

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