RAWALPINDI: The district administration has decided to close off the route for the Muharram 10mourning procession today (Monday) after Asr prayers.

Traders in Raja Bazaar and nearby areas have been told to close their markets, and the Taleemul Quran seminary has announced a two-day holiday for its students.

The administration turned down a request from traders to close down Raja Bazaar and other markets at night so they could return home easily.

“The traders had asked to close the bazaar after Maghrib prayers as they had problems getting home on Saturday when the administration closed the bazaar in the afternoon and placed containers on all the main roads,” Traders Association President Sharjeel Mir told Dawn.

He said the traders did not oppose the administration’s decision but they need time to close their shops and bazaars; the main mourning procession will be held Tuesday morning and law enforcement would have the whole night to inspect the area, he added.

He said that once shipping containers have been placed, all the main roads will be closed and it will become harder for people to move around.

The district administration, meanwhile, had asked the Taleemul Quran seminary to close for four days to avoid a situation similar to the violence in 2013, when the seminary, mosque and more than 100 shops were burned down and imambargahs were damaged on Ashura on Nov 15.

However, the seminary gave its students two days off, and will be closed during the procession. The seminar’s administrator, Maulana Ashraf Ali, told Dawn: “The seminary will be closed for two days. We have given students a two-day holiday for the last five years.”

“We will close the seminary voluntarily due to the deteriorating law and order situation in the country,” he added.

Deputy Commissioner Ali Randhawa told Dawn that the district administration and local police have made arrangements to maintain the peace in Muharram.

He said loudspeakers are not allowed in the district under the National Action Plan, particularly during Muharram and for Friday congregations. Local police and administration officials will remain at the Raja Bazaar mosque to avoid any untoward situation, he said. He said arrangements have been made to avoid a situation similar to 2013, and religious scholars asked to help the administration and police maintain the peace have assured their support.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2019