KARACHI: Ramazan is around the corner and mosques and playgrounds all over the country will witness large gatherings, especially at the time of ‘taraveeh’ prayers. We have examples of mosques and shrines being targeted in the past. On December 4, 2009, four terrorists attacked the Parade Lane mosque in Rawalpindi during Friday prayers killing 36 people.
A large gathering in a mosque, especially for ‘taraveeh’ prayers, could be an easy target for terrorists wishing to spread chaos in the holy month. The methods used in the past have included attackers entering and opening indiscriminate fire with automatic weapons, the planting of a time bomb and its detonation via a remote-controlled device, the hurling of a hand grenade or the sending of a suicide bomber.
Here are some suggestions about how to protect mosques and other places during Ramazan: 1) Every mosque management should form a watch committee of volunteers to monitor security. A team of young unarmed volunteers should be formed to carry out round-the-clock watch and to observe any suspicious activity inside and around the mosque. Services of private security agencies can also be hired. 2) The mosque should be combed before and after prayers to ensure that no suspicious object is lying or concealed inside or around the premises. If something suspicious is found, the police should be called immediately. 3) All entrances to the mosque should remain locked except the main one, which should be manned either by policemen or by the volunteers. However, other entrances should be opened during prayer timings only and must remain under strict watch. 4) All windows and openings of the mosque should have iron grills, with wire mesh covering, so that no one is able to intrude or throw anything from outside. Similarly, if prayers are held in the mosque’s courtyard, it should be covered with canopies and surrounded by partitions. 5) Mosques should be well-lit at night. 6) Worshippers should be told to immediately inform the police or the mosque committee if they suspect foul play. The committee should also organise a neighbourhood watch system in coordination with shopkeepers, hawkers and residents of the area.
Although the primary responsibility of ensuring security of mosques rests with law enforcers, the measures suggested could help prevent a terrorist attack.
Sqn-ldr (retd) S Ausaf Husain
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.
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