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Security personnel stand outside the G-6 Imambargah on Tuesday. — Online
Security personnel stand outside the G-6 Imambargah on Tuesday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Intelligence officials from the capital police will be deployed at places of worship to collect details of sermons delivered there during Muharram, as part of a strategy to prevent religious strife.

A senior police officer told Dawn the police are also approaching ulema with requests to deliver sermons on various topics such as Karbala, the five pillars of Islam, Ahl-i-Bait, fundamental rights and religious and sectarian harmony.

Action will be taken against those found involved in spreading religious hatred or hurting the sentiments of other sects, he said.

Ulema being approached to deliver sermons on selected topics, action will be taken against those involved in spreading religious hatred

Surveillance has also been increased around 11 local ulema by the police, he said, and efforts to ban them through to capital administration are ongoing as they are likely to ignite tensions in the city.

The officer said efforts are also ongoing to ban the entry of 16 ulema either native to or living in other parts of the country because they are considered a threat and may create a law and order situation in the country leading to a loss of lives and property.

Officials in charge of police stations, circles and zones on Tuesday were also asked to increase surveillance with regarding to wall-chalking regarding religious beliefs and sentiments that may cause sectarian hatred in the capital.

During a meeting on Tuesday, the senior superintendent of police directed station house officers, sub-divisional police officers and superintendents of police to remain vigilant and survey their respective areas and remove all such chalking, if found.

Such efforts will continue on a daily basis for the next at least two months, and posters or banners that may hurt religious sentiments should also be removed if they are found in the capital, they were told.

Security arrangements finalised

A total of 12,000 police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel will be deployed for security purposes in Muharram, police said. Security arrangements for the month were finalised on Tuesday.

A total of 909 religious gatherings and 177 processions will be held in the city; the SSP has order strict security arrangements for these occasions, including special checking of participants and close liaison with peace committees and organisers of majlises and processions.

Majlis and procession participants will be checked with metal detectors, while adequate lighting at the venues will be arranged with the assistance of the concerned authorities.

Processions’ routes and timings should also be ensured, and police will also be deployed on rooftops adjacent to the routes.

The venues will be covered by a police contingent and joint police and Rangers patrolling teams, they said, while fire engines and ambulances will be present in selected parts of the capital.

Teams of Rangers, the Counter Terrorism Force and police commandos will be deployed around imambargahs.

The Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) has also a traffic plan for the 177 congregations and 909 majlises, for which 560 traffic police will be deployed on procession routes to prevent road users from being inconvenienced.

Alternative routes will be made and updates provided through the ITP’s radio channel FM 92.4, police said, while additional personnel will be deployed at imambargahs, intersections and on major roads.

Strict action will be taken against vehicles without registration plates or with tinted windows as part of these security measures.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018