PESHAWAR: Ninth Muharram was observed peacefully with religious zeal amid tight security as thousands of policemen, army soldiers and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel were deployed across the province.
Large congregations and processions were witnessed in Nowshera, Haripur, Mansehra, Parachinar, Kurram, Orakzai and others districts of the province.
On Muharram 9, the main mourning procession in Peshawar emerged from the Hussainia Hall in the Saddar. It started in the morning and concluded in the afternoon after passing through its traditional route.
A large number of policemen as well as medical staff, Rescue 1122 personnel were deployed along its route. Water tanks (Sabeel) had also been arranged along the routes.
“Several small and large processions are held on Muharram 9, including a large one in Saddar and several others inside the old walled city and we have provided complete security to all of them,” said a police official while talking to The Express Tribune.
The mourners later reassembled at the Imamia Hall in the afternoon where religious scholars delivered special sermons.
“Another large procession takes place in the evening, emerging from the Imamia Colony in Gulbahar and SSP Javed Iqbal himself supervised its security,” the police official said, adding that several other processions were also planned to take place in the city overnight.
In Peshawar, several large and small processions were seen emerging from imambargahs including Akhunabad, Agha Syed Mir Haider Shah, Alamdar-e-Karbala, Syed Mustafa Shah Rizvi, Syed Ali Qami, Qadeemi Patharwala, Bahar Ali Kayani, Puran Wali and Mai Malangri.
Processions would later join the central procession from Imambargah Agha Syed Alam Shah.
People perform rituals during the 9th Muharram procession in Peshawar. PHOTO: APP
For the 266 Imambargahs along with 460 mourning processions as well as 2,683 majalis (congregations) taking place across the province, around 32,000 police and army personnel were on guard.
Of these, 71 imambargahs are located in Peshawar with 118 processions in addition to the 314 majalis in various places.
Ahead of Ashura, the government had declared Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu, Kohat and Tank as sensitive areas where aerial surveillance was scheduled to be conducted to maintain security.
In Peshawar, two control rooms have been set up to monitor the situation in the city around the clock. One of the control rooms has been set up in Saddar while the other one is in the city.
To facilitate the mourners and to quell apprehensions of any untoward incident, strict security measures were taken by security forces and the city was in a virtual lock-down for all kinds of vehicular traffic while the mobile phone services were also suspended throughout the day.
The police also conducted search and strike operations in the city, particularly in the Ghari Hayat Khan area within the remits of the Yakatoot police station on the outskirts of the city late on Wednesday night.
Several suspects were arrested during the combing operation.
The entire walled city was also sealed and shopkeepers in the main markets including Saddar, Qissa Khwani, Khyber Bazaar, People Mandi and Kochi Bazaar, were requested to keep their markets closed for the three main days of Muharram.
Barriers were put up to deny entry to any vehicle into the locality, with locals asked to stay inside their homes as processions passed.
Police chief visits imambargahs
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mehsood visited imambargahs located in the Saddar area of the city to review security arrangements for peaceful observance of Muharram.
The IGP inspected different sections of the imambargah and reviewed in detail the security steps taken for peaceful observance of Muharram.
Peshawar Capital City Police Chief Qazi Jamilur Rehman and Peshawar Operations SSP briefed the IGP about the security management and live monitoring of the mourning processions through closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed in various parts of the city.
The IGP expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the police and issued additional instructions to the police officers present. The IGP also met with Shia elders and exchanged views with them about the security arrangements adopted by the police.
Mehsood also visited the army control room set up there and was briefed with the help of maps and charts about the Muharram security steps.
Later, while speaking with the media, the IGP pointed out that they have great coordination between police, army, Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, civil administration and intelligence agencies.
He added that joint search and strike operation was being carried out based on information gathered by intelligence agencies which have yielded better results.
The IGP further said that stringent security arrangements have been made and all the necessary security equipment has been provided to the districts where Muharram processions are expected to be held.
Mehsood further revealed that security steps for Muharram had been taken in consultation and active support from the respective sects and the public. He hoped that Muharram would be observed with due reverence in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2018.