PESHAWAR: In order to prevent any untoward incident during Ashura days, police have put security on high alert in the provincial capital besides blocking most roads leading to bazaars, cantonment areas, imambargahs, important buildings and houses of VIPs.
The main bazaars of Ashraf Road, Qissa Khwani, Khyber Bazaar, Chowk Yadgaar, Hasht Nagri, Kohati, Shoba Bazaar and other sensitive areas remained closed on Wednesday amid tight security arrangements.
Police have asked transporters to avoid bringing passenger vehicles on roads for two days, Thursday and Friday. All routes will remain closed during the two days for security reasons.
“Police have started creating hurdles for us since Tuesday night and now they have asked us to keep vehicles off the roads,” Urban Transport Union President Khan Zaman Afridi told Dawn.
He said police had also impounded at least 60 passenger vehicles for transporting security personnel to duty.
“Police rarely pay fare to transporters,” he said, adding that transporters had also opted to keep vehicles off the roads until Friday night.
In Peshawar, main procession of Muharram will appear from Hussainia Hall (imambargah) located on main Saddar Road today (Thursday), where all entry and exit points have been completely blocked for common people, while the entire Saddar Bazaar will remain sealed.
Mourners will be allowed to join processions after passing through walkthrough gates and bodysearch by security personnel and volunteers of Shia organisations.
However, unlike the past, parking of vehicles will not be allowed on Mall Road and all people will have to leave their vehicles at a parking lot of the cantonment board opposite Shafi Market near Stadium Chowk.
“We have planned to guide all people in parking their vehicles and coming to the venue of procession via Stadium Road Chowk,” said SHO Tauheedullah Khan of West Cantonment police station.
Also in the day, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak directed the divisional and district administrations in the province to take effective and result-oriented measures to maintain law and order in their respective areas and ensure security of citizens during Muharram with special focus during Ashura days.
He also asked the divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners to monitor security arrangements in their respective areas personally and put security on high alert for the protection of mourners and places of worship in order to prevent any untoward situation and ensure a peaceful environment for mourners and people to perform their religious rituals.
The directives were issued to divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners through a video conference from the CM Secretariat in Peshawar.
The divisional commissioners apprised the chief minister of the security and pre-emptive measures taken to avoid any unpleasant incident during Muharram in their respective areas.
The DI Khan commissioner informed the chief minister that the army troops had been deployed in some areas of DI Khan city to help the civil administration ensure law and order and deal with any emergency situation if the need arose.
The commissioner said the divisional administration had put in place all the required security arrangements for Muharram while the local community was fully cooperating with the administration regarding law and order during Muharram.
The commissioner of Kohat division also informed the chief minister of the security measures taken in his division.
The chief minister directed the commissioner of Kohat to make foolproof security arrangements in Hangu district with special focus on the possible threats of terrorist activities from the vicinity of the surrounding mountains.
He also asked him to convene a joint meeting of the representatives of Shia and Sunni communities well as elected representatives of the area soon after Muharram to formulate a plan for durable peace in Hangu.
Mr Khattak directed all divisional commissioners to strictly monitor security arrangements and keep him informed of the situation in their respective areas.