— White Star
— White Star

LAHORE: The closure of public parks for an indefinite period proves that the security arrangements at such public places by the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) were inadequate.

The PHA says its parks were well guarded by its private security guards along with police. On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself at the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park.

“I’ve never seen private security guards or the police frisking the visitors thoroughly at parks,” Muhammad Ilyas, of Iqbal Town, says. “ The guards, you can check, always carry outdated metal detectors.”

He said though public parks in Lahore had been safe from terror attacks despite inappropriate security arrangements, the PHA and police should have focused on this issue before.

“I wonder why we always wait for deaths to take the matter seriously. We should leave this practice,” he regretted.

PHA Director General Mian Shakeel is satisfied with the level of security at parks’ gates.

“All visitors at parks’ gates are checked by PHA guards and constables as well,” he said. “Now, it has to be checked by investigators how the suicide bomber entered the park.”

He said the PHA was also investigating its security guards manning the park.

He said on an average, 50,000 people visited on Sundays.

“So we can safely say that 50,000 people visited the park on March 27 (Sunday). At the time of the blast, I can safely say that there were 7,000 to 8,000 visitors in the park.”

He said they had closed the parks because of security issues and government instructions.

“And now the parks would open for the public after security clearance from the police department,” he said.

BODIES: The City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) dispatched seven bodies to Sindh, three to Balochistan, one to Azad Jammu and Kashmir, two each to Hafizabad and Sahiwal, three to Kasur, eight to Okara and four to Sheikhupura, a spokesman for the CDGL told Dawn.

He said besides public parks, the Lahore zoo would also remain closed. He said death toll was 68, and of the 355 injured brought to various city hospitals, 203 had been discharged.

According to Lahore Commissioner Abdullah Sumbal, 15 Christians were killed, and 150 others were under treatment.

The city’s atmosphere was sorrowful on Monday. The localities where the funerals of the blast victims were offered included: Pakki Thathi (Samanabad), Chungi Amar Sadhu and Yuhanabad.

“Town municipal officers and assistant commissioners have been told to facilitate the people in burial and medical treatment of their loved ones. Besides this, we have also set up a control room (phone number 042-99210630) where those seeking any information related to dead and injured can contact,” District Coordination Officer (DCO) retired Capt Muhammad Usman said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2016