Myanmar govt, Suu Kyi slam attack on Buddhist shrine

TNN Jul 9, 2013

NEW DELHI, India -- The Myanmar government and Opposition leader Aung San Suu kyi expressed unhappiness about the terror attacks in Bodh Gaya which damaged the Mahabodhi shrine and injured a young Myanmarese monk on Sunday. The Bihar government has been criticized for ignoring intelligence warnings that the shrine may be under terror threat.

The Bodh Gaya blasts will be a diplomatic embarrassment for India among countries who India courts as the repository of Buddhism's holy sites from Japan, China, Bhutan, Thailand to Myanmar and Sri Lanka. For all these countries, India's position in the world of Buddhism is unique. This incident could cast a shadow on that, which would mean India would have to work doubly hard to secure religious sites that have an international presence.

It also means India would have to play a stronger role in security in its neighbourhood, specially in the growing conflicts between Muslims and Buddhists.

In separate meetings with foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, who is visiting Yangon, Myanmarese leaders condemned the blasts and requested increased security. Mathai, said MEA officials, has promised that India would keep Bodh Gaya as a place for "pilgrimage and peace". Mathai met Myanmarese foreign minister U Wunna Maung Lwin in Naw Pyi Taw, and Suu Kyi in Yangon. Suu Kyi expressed shock and hoped for greater security.

Mathai also gave an update on the status of the Myanmarese monk, Vilsagga, who was injured. He said the monk would be taken care of by Indian authorities. India and Myanmar have agreed to step up security cooperation. Mathai also met with the commander-in-chief of the armed forces Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Vilsagga (30), a Myanmarese monk, was praying near the Bodhi tree and suffered serious injuries in the blast.