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KARACHI: Police have decided to ask the organisers of majalis, mourning processions and other religious activities during Muharram-ul-Haram to get their licences renewed so that better security arrangements can be planned after analysing the number of events and venues.

The decision was announced at a meeting, which was chaired by Sindh IGP A.D. Khowaja and by AIGs, DIGs, SSPs and other senior officers across the province, held at the Central Police Office on Tuesday.

“It was decided that each and every organiser of majalis and rallies will be required to renew their licenses and also give an undertaking to strictly comply with approved timings,” said an official statement issued following the meeting. “Communication strategy to ensure close coordination among law enforcers prior to commencement, during and following the conclusion of these religious gatherings in different districts of the province was also finalised in the meeting. Senior officers from different areas of the province extensively discussed security and contingency plans for key venues of majalis, procession routes for mourners’ rallies and other related activities.”

CTD recommends placing 185 individuals on Fourth Schedule

The police chief, the statement added, urged the officials to take on board notables belonging to different sects with regard to a comprehensive strategy aimed at ensuring sectarian harmony during Muharram.

“The meeting also discussed adequate use of available force in different cities and towns across the province supplemented by the formation of peace committee at each police station level,” said the statement. “The officers were asked to strictly handle elements involved in distribution of provocative literature or objectionable wall chalking. Implementation of Loudspeaker Act was also ordered to be ensured.”

Monitoring of fourth schedulers

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the police, meanwhile, recommended the home department to put the names of 185 individuals on Fourth Schedule to monitor their activities particularly during Muharram, a senior official told Dawn.

Of the total 185 individuals, 54 belonged to Karachi, 13 to Hyderabad, nine to Mirpurkhas, nine to Shaheed Benazirabad, 10 to Sukkur and 90 to Larkana ranges. All of them belong to different religious organisations.

“Apart from enlisting of fresh cases of 185 people on Fourth Schedule, the police have also proposed the home department to delist the 16 individuals who died in recent years,” said Additional IG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi.

However, he added, the police proposed to re-notify 232 individuals whose three-year period ended. The names were scrutinised at a meeting attended by all the DIGs of Sindh. It was decided that each SSP would interview the fourth scheduler on a monthly basis and for this purpose, two committees were formed at district level and at Central Police Office, headquarters of the Sindh police in Karachi.

The participants in the meeting also recommended putting names of “certain places” on the watch list. It was agreed at the meeting held the other day that the CTD should recommend the Sindh government to approach the federal government to bring necessary amendments in Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 for putting certain places on watch list, according to the counter-terror force head.

In the meeting, the participants also exchanged views about taking a host of measures to enhance the monitoring of fourth schedulers keeping in view the month of Muharram, which is due to begin next week.

It was agreed that the monitoring cell should increase the number of individuals that are vetted on a monthly basis by the CTD. Besides, high-profile individuals who have been known to cause “nuisance and offence” shall be summoned to the CTD and bound to ensure that they keep a “low profile during Muharram,” said AIG Abbasi.

It was further decided that in future, persons called for monitoring would be bound to bring their bank statement and call data record so that CTD officers could check suspicious transactions and verify if they had left their district of residence without prior permission.

The officers also decided that the persons, who had previously been identified as being “highly likely to be disruptive” during Muharram, should be highlighted and a list of their names be sent to the home department for orders for preventive detention under the relevant clauses of the Anti-Terrorism Act (S-11-EEE) for a period of at least one month.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017