Shia elders, authorities join heads on Muharram security in Peshawar

Published: September 1, 2018
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A file photo of a Muharram procession. PHOTO: AFP

A file photo of a Muharram procession. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: The top security authorities of the provincial capital have been directed by a court to sit with Shia elders and deliberate on routes and timings for Muharram processions so that adequate security arrangements can be made while the processions are facilitated.

Shia elders were directed to cooperate with the police in fulfilling its duty and making security arrangements. The police, on the other hand, was restrained from creating any hurdle in the way peaceful of processions but facilitate them as much as possible.

This was directed by a two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), comprising Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Nasir Mehfooz, as it heard a writ petition filed by the chairman of the Muharram committee Muzaffar Akhunzada on behalf of Shia residents of the province.

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In the petition filed through Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, Akhunzada told the court that during Muharram, the participants of processions are usually not at ease to observe their procession and alleged that the police creates undue hurdles along the routes of their processions.

“Due to the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in recent years, FIRs were registered against Shia leaders,” the lawyer alleged.

He urged the court to direct the police and the district administration to facilitate them in observing Muharram.

The bench had previously directed Peshawar’s deputy commissioner and senior police officials to appear in the court.

Investigation SSP Nisar Ahmad and Deputy Commissioner Imran Sheikh appeared before the court on Friday and assured the court of their full cooperation for Muharram procession.

However, they argued that they cannot compromise on security as they have to ensure a peaceful environment for the participants of the processions.

The bench disposed of the petition and directed the K-P police, district administration, and Shia elders to sit together and decide routes and timings of processions.

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Earlier in the week, Akhunzada wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan, voicing his strong concerns over the registration of FIRs against Shia elders during Muharram for taking out mourning processions without police permission.

In the letter, he claimed that last year he had been nominated in seven FIRs along with other Shia leaders and then they were then treated like outlaws with their houses raided. They were forced to approach the court and arrange bails before arrest to avoid going to jail. 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2018.

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