Annual commemoration: Mourners brace for Ashura amid tight security

9,000 policemen deployed, medics, rescuers and volunteers remain on standby


Mourners pay respect at a tazia at Muharram 9 procession. All processions will merge with the main procession on Ashura. PHOTO: /EXPRESS

LAHORE: Amid serious security threats, thousands of mourners took to the streets of Lahore under the watchful eye of the law enforcers on Tuesday to commemorate the sacrifices of Imam Hussain (RA) and his family in Karbala.

The annual Muharram 9 procession came out of Imambargah Pando Street in Krishan Nagar and reached Imambargah Khaima Sadaat after passing through Inder Street, Dyal Street, Guru Tegh Bahadur Road, Main Bazaar Krishan Nagar, Secretariat Chowk, Church Road, Nabha Road, Edward Road and Old Anarkali. The procession was on its way back to Pando Street when this report was filed.

A large number of women and children also participated in the procession, where speakers recalled the events of the Battle of Karbala.

Scores of medics, rescuers and volunteers remained on standby and provided first aid to those in need of attention. Various sabeels of milk, water and tea were set up along the route of the procession. Some devotees were seen distributing juice packets, dry fruit, sweetmeats and food among mourners.

Similar processions were also taken out from Imambargah Qasr-e-Batool, Nicholson Road in Shadman, Imambargah Gulistan-e-Zahra on Abbot Road, Imambargah Saydan in Saddar and in Wassanpura

Lahore’s historic main Ashura procession is set to commence from Nisar Haveli that will conclude at Karbala Gamay Shah at 10pm today after passing through Chowk Nawab Sahab, Mohallah Shian, Mohallah Gillanian, Chohatta Mufti Baqir, Purani Kotwali, Dabbi Bazaar, Sunehri Masjid, Rang Mehal Chowk, Suha Bazaar, Gumti Bazaar, Pani Wala Talab, Bazaar Hakeeman, Tehsil Bazaar, Bhati Bazaar and Bhati Chowk.

Surveillance

The main procession was monitored through at least 400 CCTV cameras installed by the Punjab Safe City Authority with the command and control centre at its headquarters in Qurban Lines.

Another 300 CCTV cameras have been installed by city police and district administration with the surveillance controls at the DCO Office.

Police are using nine drone cameras for monitoring of the processions as well. Latest wireless sets have been provided to the Dolphin Squad personnel and Police Response Unit. Video calls can also be made through these wireless sets.

Mobile phone services have been suspended near the procession site with a ban on pillion riding also in place to ensure security of the mourners. Police arrested 213 people for violations and impounded their vehicles.

About 9,000 policemen were deployed to provide three-layer security at the procession. All the roads and streets leading to procession were closed down with barbed wires, tents, barricades and containers and the participants were allowed entry only through one passage after physical search.

Plainclothes officials were also deployed to keep an eye on suspicious activities while snipers were deputed on the rooftops of the several buildings along the route.

The procession routes were earlier cleared by special branch police, bomb disposal squad and sniffer dogs.

Traffic diversions were set up on roads leading towards the procession with wardens deployed at every place to guide citizens. Traffic at Shahdara Chowk was diverted towards the railway station after passing through Azadi Chowk flyover.

Traffic coming from Multan Road-Chauburji was diverted to the Commissioner Office, Court Street and from there onwards to Band Road. Traffic from Anrdroon-e-Circular Road was diverted to Urdu Bazaar, Chatterji Road and Neela Gumband.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2016.

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