As many as 35 shrines in Rawalpindi district are violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs), according to a recently-prepared Rawalpindi police report. The report, compiled by the Special Branch, was submitted to the Punjab government earlier this month and called for immediate measures to safeguard people’s lives.
According to the superintendent of police, the SOPs violated include hiring private security guards for body searches, installation of CCTV cameras, raising boundary walls by up to 12 feet, use of metal detectors and search lights, construction of watch towers near shrines, and drills for evacuation.
These procedures were created in response to a slew of suicide attacks at shrines in different parts of the country.
However, none of the measures seem like they are being implemented in any of the city’s shrines, which include Darbar-e-Alia Eidgah Sharif near Asghar Mall, Darbar Shah Chan Chiragh near Committee Chowk, Mohra Sharif, Baba Gohar Ali Shah Harley Street, Darbar Lal Hussain Shah and Kaliam Awan Gujar Khan.
The report also points out the absence of security measures at shrines in Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal districts.
After going through the findings of the report, City Police Officer Azhar Hameed Khokhar directed all station house officers to take up the issue with the custodians of shrines in their areas and with the Auqaf Department. Meanwhile, the commissioner has directed the police to beef up security around mosques and shrines during the month of Ramazan.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.
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