HYDERABAD: As security threats loom large in the wake of the terrorist attack on Shah Noorani's shrine in Balochistan, thousands of devotees have begun to converge in Bhit Shah, Matiari district, for the urs celebrations of Sufi poet Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.
The three-day celebrations of the 273rd urs of the Sufi poet will officially commence today in the small town, located two kilometres (km) off the National Highway and some 50km from Hyderabad. Matiari SSP Malik Zafar Iqbal told The Express Tribune that security measures have been tightened since last year. Some 2,000 policemen, in addition to Rangers, will be deployed while the number of walk-through gates has been increased to 13, he said.
"No one will be allowed to enter the shrine from both its main gates without a body search with the metal detectors and by passing through the walk through gates," the SSP said. The police and the Rangers personnel have been deployed at both the entrances of the shrine, while three walk through gates have been installed at each entrance gate. According to the SSP, the law enforcement agencies will also monitor the town, as well as the shrine, through 25 close circuit television cameras.
The Matiari district health officer (DHO) Dr Abdul Sattar Ansari said that three ambulances, out of seven available at his DHO office, have been stationed in Bhit Shah as a precaution.
The taluka hospital in Matiari is reportedly not equipped with the facilities to provide any emergency services in the event of a terrorist attack. If such a situation cropped up, the patients will be referred to either Hyderabad or Karachi.
When asked why the DHO office did not request the Sindh health director-general (DG) Dr Hassan Murad Shah to provide more ambulances, the SSP claimed that it is difficult to contact him. The media can draw his attention to this requirement for additional ambulances, the SSP said, adding that the DG might then take some measures. The health DG could not be contacted for his version.
"I scheduled duty of 27 doctors in separate shifts for the three days [of the urs]. But now we are left with just 21 doctors," the DHO complained, adding that the Peoples Primary Healthcare Initiative has suddenly withdrawn services of six doctors, who were scheduled to perform duty during the urs.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2016.
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