ISLAMABAD: As a part of security arrangements for Muharram, the capital territory administration has imposed a ban on pillion riding for two months.
The duration of the ban surprised many in the capital as usually such a restriction is imposed for a few days, particularly on 8, 9 and 10 Muharram.
A notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat stated: “It has been brought to my knowledge that certain pillion riders are likely to resort to violence and acts of sabotage aimed at disrupting peace and tranquility causing damage to public life and property during the forthcoming Muharram-ul-Harram.”
Women, elderly people and children will be exempted from the ban, DC says
The deputy commissioner added that in his opinion there were sufficient grounds for imposing Section 144 to prohibit the use of motorcycles for pillion riding to avoid any threat to public peace.
“To provide immediate protection to public life and property it has been decided to prohibit use of motorcycle for pillion riding in Islamabad for a period of two months.”
A notification to ban the distribution of handbills, pamphlets and wall chalking was issued on July 17, 2018, for a period of two months so there was no need to issue a new notification for Muharram.
The notification stated that certain sections of public were likely to distribute handbills, pamphlets, carry out wall chalking, write slogans and affix posters on walls to hurt the feelings of different religious sects or segments of society which could disturb public peace and tranquility within the limits of Islamabad.
The steps have been taken to ensure security and to avoid hate speech during Muharram.
Mohammad Bilal, a resident, while criticising the decision said it was unfair to ban pillion riding for two months.
“A large number of students and people share fuel for going to their colleges and officers. The ban on pillion riding will not only waste their time as they will have to use public transport but it will also put a financial burden on them,” he said.
When contacted, the DC told Dawn that Islamabad was the face of the country so no chance can be taken.
“Moreover, 197 processions are held in the federal capital from Muharram 1 to the chehlum. There is a red alert in the city due to which we cannot place a ban on pillion riding for just three days,” he said.
“However women, elderly persons and children will be exempted from the ban. I have also directed that the citizens should not be stopped while travelling on main roads and only those travelling near sensitive areas should be stopped.”
In reply to a question, the official said such decisions were made on the basis of threat alerts so sometimes the ban was imposed for a few days and sometimes for a longer period.
He said it had also been decided not to suspend cell phone services on Ashura. However, this decision can be changed in case of a new alert, he added.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018