LAHORE: Hundreds of thousands of people including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Federal Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi took part in the concluding prayers for the second four-day Raiwind Tableeghi Ijtema session yesterday.
More than 500,000 people, including large groups from southern Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan participated in the gathering.
Thousands of people arrived on Sunday especially for the 20-minute final prayers, which were led by Haji Abdul Wahhab. The ijtema was also held from November 17 to 20, when most of the participants were from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The visitors started leaving the venue at around 11am and people continued streaming out until 3pm. Traffic police blocked adjoining roads and opened both sides of Raiwind Road to vehicles leaving the venue.
Some 3,000 policemen were on security duty at the ijtema while CCTV cameras, walkthrough gates and special police posts were set up for the event. However, the walkthrough gates were later removed on the request of the organisers. Some 5,000 volunteers were largely responsible for security arrangements in the inner cordon alongside Special Branch officers in plain clothes.
Traffic Police Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Sardar Malik Akram said that an additional parking area of around four acres had been arranged for the second session alongside the 11 parking areas designated for the first sessions. He said that when all the parking space ran out, vehicles were parked in empty land at the Officers’ Colony.
Police conducted several search operations in the division while the ijtema was ongoing and dozens of people were detained.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th, 2011.