9th of Muharram: Amid tight security, processions conclude peacefully

Officials remain on high alert for Ashura day events, beef up security


Our Correspondents October 12, 2016
Bomb disposal squad personnel use a remotely-controlled robotic vehicle to clear the vicinity of G-6 Imambargah. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Surrounded by hundreds of policemen and paramilitary troops and with helicopters hovering overhead, processions for Muharram 9 concluded peacefully in the twin cities on Tuesday.

The main procession in Islamabad emerged from the Markazi Imambargah in G-6/2 in which thousands of mourners participated.

The procession started along its pre-approved route at around 1:30pm and passed through Luqman Hakeem Road, G-6 Service Road, Saddar Road, Streets 33 and 40 in G-6/1, Municipal Road, Melody Chowk, Shuhada Chowk, Aabpara Police Station and Polyclinic before circling back through  Luqman Hakeem Road and culminating at the Imambargah after 8pm.

Police made ample security arrangements cordoning off the entire route of the procession. Sector G-6 was in complete lockdown with major roads blocked with containers and many streets cut off with concrete blocks and barbed wire.

Around 3,000 personnel of Islamabad Police, Islamabad Traffic Police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary were deployed along the procession route while helicopters flew overhead for surveillance.

Several high ranking security officials, including Islamabad Police Inspector General Tariq Masood Yasin, SSP-Operations Sajid Kiani, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Capt (retd) Mushtaq Ahmad and Rangers officials visited the area just hours before the procession was due to start.

“Nothing is being left to chance to protect the citizens,” said IG Yasin, adding that they were using drones and robotic explosive detection devices to ensure security for the procession.

Another procession was taken out of Imambargah Musa Kazim in Sector I-10/1 at midnight on Tuesday and culminated at Fajar prayers. Service Road along the CDA Chowk on IJP Road was closed for traffic to facilitate the procession.

Traffic on the capital’s roads remained thin during the day with public transport staying off the roads. Major markets and shopping centres were also closed for the day. While a pillion riding ban had been in effect for the day, it was not strictly implemented in some areas.

Suspension of cellular services too remained partial.

Pinidi processions

Rawalpindi remained peaceful as 79 mourning processions and 206 congregations across the city concluded on Tuesday amid tight security. The main mourning processions in Rawalpindi took place in Bohar Bazaar and Hathi Chowk near Saddar.

Police along with Rangers and army kept strict watch on the proceedings. In this regard they have set up a joint monitoring room in the Rawal Town Municipal Administration building.

Today, Muharram 10, as many as 65 mourning processions and 113 congregations across the district will be held. The most sensitive processions in the city include the procession starting from Imambargah Ashiq Hussain at Committee Chowk, procession starting from Baltastani Imambargah, the procession in Commercial Market, and a major procession starting from house of Fazal Hussain at RA Bazaar.

Threatening letter

Unidentified men sent an Urdu language letter to the Imambargah Baltistani threatening to attack if processions are taken out on Muharram 9 and 10.

The letters, signed by ‘Maulana Umer’, had reportedly been dropped in a house adjacent to the Imambargah in Mohalla Angatpura on Monday evening.

Banni police registered a criminal case against the unidentified people under section 9 of the anti-terrorism act and are investigating
the case.

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

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