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Tight security put in place for Ashura in Rawalpindi

September 21, 2018

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Containers have been parked at Committee Chowk as part of the security measures for the Ashura procession in Rawalpindi. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Containers have been parked at Committee Chowk as part of the security measures for the Ashura procession in Rawalpindi. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

RAWALPINDI: The district administration and police on Thursday finalised security arrangements for Ashura, including closing a number of roads and activating a control room at the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) building.

On Thursday, there was no hustle and bustle in bazaars as the government had already asked the traders to keep their shops and other business centres closed.

The home department has ordered deployment of extra police force at flash points along the route of the Ashura procession, including Iqbal Road, Bohar Bazaar Chowk and Taleemul Quran mosque at Raja Bazaar where sectarian violence erupted on Ashura in 2013.

Over 360 CCTV cameras installed on route to monitor mourning procession from control room set up at RMC building

The local administration and police closed the gates of Taleemul Quran seminary after the administration of the maderssah sent its students to their hometowns two days ago.

Deputy Commissioner Omer Jehangir and City Police Officer Abbas Ahsan accompanied by religious scholars will be present in the area to monitor the situation.

“We have made arrangements for maintaining peace in the district and all religious scholars have assured us of their cooperation. The administration and police will be present on the traditional route to tackle any incident,” the deputy commissioner told Dawn.

“We have removed loudspeakers and blocked all streets opening into the sensitive points at the procession route,” he added.

He said the provincial government had requested organisers of the procession to follow the timetable. The participants should proceed on the route in forms of blocks so it would be easy to provide security to them.

“We want the procession to culminate before night due to serious threats of terrorist acts,” said the DC.

He said like in the past, the provincial government had provided two helicopters to the local administration and police for air surveillance of the procession.

He said intelligence agencies would check the route before handing it over to the army, Rangers and police. The participants would be checked through metal detectors by the police and the organisers.

More than six processions will be taken out from Yaadgar-i-Hussain Satellite Town; Imambargah Balti, Angatpura; Imambargah Col Maqbool, College Road; Imambargah Hifazat Ali, Bohar Bazaar; Imambargah Chamanzar Colony; Shah Chan Chiragh and other imambargahs.

These processions will merge at Hayat Wali Hospital on Asghar Mall and will be joined by three others processions carrying Zuljinnah, Alam and Tazia at Bohar bazaar Chowk.

The participants will offer Zohrain prayers at Fowara Chowk and then turn to Raja Bazaar. After passing through Hamilton and Jamia Masjid roads, the procession will culminate at Qadeemi Imambargah.

Meanwhile, Punjab Minister for Literacy and Informal Education Raja Rashid Hafeez on Thursday visited the control room at the RMC and the tradition route of the Ashura procession.

He was informed that more than 360 close circuit TV cameras had been installed on the 10km route of the mourning procession. The control room has the capacity to record the footage.

The minister also visited Taleemul Quran seminary and met its custodian Maulana Ashraf Ali. They agreed to cooperate with each other to avoid any untoward incident during the procession.

He also met the organisers of the mourning procession and visited Shah Chan Chiragh shrine and headquarters of Tehreek Nifaz Fiqa-i-Jaffriya and held a meeting with Agha Syed Mohammad Murtaza, Syed Hasan Kazmi, Abrar Shah, Syed Rahat Kazmi, Itibaar Bukhari and others.

TAXILA: The main procession will be brought out from Imambargah Qasr-i-Abbas which will be joined by small processions and culminate at Imambargah Pir Fateh Haider. In Wah Cantt, the main procession will start at an imambargah on Haider Road which will be joined by another procession from Imambargah Qasr-i-Shabbir at Saadat Colony on G.T. Road.

Security arrangements have been tightened in the city and the route of the main procession of Zuljinnah has been cleared. The roads leading to the congregation are closed for traffic and only pedestrians are allowed after proper checking.

A senior police official said 20 processions and 18 Majalis had been declared sensitive. He said 23 processions would be taken out in Wah Cantonment and 56 in Taxila.

In reply to a question, he said the administration had already imposed a ban on pillion riding and display of weapons to ensure foolproof security. He said fire brigade, civil defence and bomb disposal squads, hospitals, Rescue 1122 and Edhi centres have been put on a high alert.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018