RAWALPINDI: Clerics of Madressah Taleemul Quran Tuesday got the city police worrying about security when they decided to hold a conference on December 23-24 in front of the madressah to express solidarity with victims of the sectarian violence on Ashura day last month.

Security sources worry that the theme and venue of the continuous 40-hour conference might lead to new violence.

Not only the conference coincides with the Chehlum of Imam Hussain but it will also block the traditional route of the procession.

Each year, the police ensure tight security for the Chehlum processions, which are taken out from Imambargah Col Maqbool Hussain and Imambargah Hifazat Ali Shah in the city centre.

In the charged sectarian atmosphere of this year, the police have received intelligence reports that some terrorist groups were planning to target the Chehlum procession “as well as the Christmas festival” on December 25, the sources said.

They said the decision to hold the conference on the main route of procession was taken at a meeting held at Jamia Masjid Hanfia Purana Qila.

It was attended by the clerics of Madressah Taleemul Quran Maulana Ashraf Ali, Qazi Abdul Rasheed, Qazi Zahoor Ahmed, Dr Attiqur Rehman, Qari Amanullah, Qari Shakir Mehmood and Mufti Awais.

City police sent a report about the clerics’ meeting and their decision to the inspector general of police and the home department of Punjab.

“Police are still working on the security issue to ensure religious harmony in the city on the occasion,” City Police Officer Akhtar Umar Hayat Lalika told Dawn.

Asked about the police investigations into the November 15 Ashura day violence, in which at least 11 persons were killed and the madressah-mosque-market complex was burnt down, the CPO said that so far 54 suspects had been arrested.

“Several other people also have been detained in the six cases registered with the police regarding attacks on Imambargahs,” he added.

“At the moment the police are concentrating on the main accused who were identified with the help of video and CCTV footage,” the CPO said when asked about the prominent clerics nominated in the case registered with the Ganjmandi police under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

“Some of those nominated in the FIR were abroad when the violence occurred,” he said, adding police will investigate them later.