Containers, barbed wires and tents blocked most of the Lower Mall and adjoining roads from Friday morning till evening for the commemoration procession taken out to mark Hazrat Ali’s (RA) martyrdom.
Thousands participated in the event, which went on without a hitch, amid tight security. According to DCO Noorul Amin Mengal, around 4,000 personnel had been deployed to monitor the procession. About 45 snipers were deployed at roof tops while Bomb Disposal Squad officials also patrolled the stretch, helped by sniffer dogs. Mengal said that officials of the police, Civil Defence, Rescue 1122 and the Health Department had been directed to remain on high alert. Emergency wards of all hospitals had also been told to be prepared for any untoward incident, he said. Flood lights were installed along the route. A control room, with real time CCTV footage, had been set up at DCO’s office from where Commissioner Jawad Rafique and Mengal monitored the procession.
DIG Operations Rai Mohammad Tahir said that the police had been “rehearsing” the security protocol for five days.
Work on the Bus Rapid Transit System on the Lower Mall was also stopped for two days, Thursday and Friday, as part of the security plan. According to the City Traffic Police, the request had been sent about a month ago.
Security officials had allowed setting up of two entry points – one at Karbala Gamay Shah and the other at Mubarik Haveli. There were two layers of security – with an outer cordon at 500 metres from the entry points and the inner one at about 200 metres. Police personnel checked those entering at the outer cordon while Civil Defence personnel frisked them again at the inner cordon.
The procession left Mubarik Haveli at 9pm. It culminated at Karbala Gamay Shah at around 5pm after passing through the Wazir Khan Chowk, Kashimiri Bazaar, Sunheri Masjid, Pani Wala Talab and Bhati Gate. The Tazia (a replica of Hazrat Ali’ tomb) followed the procession.
Some people mourned by beating their chests and others beat themselves with razors tied at the end of a chain. There were --- Rescue personnel on duty. A Rescue 1122 spokesperson told The Express Tribune that they had provided first aid to 36 people. Thirty-five people, he said, were treated for minor cuts and bruises while one had to be taken to Mayo Hospital due to excessive bleeding. Seven ambulances, three fire vehicles and 80 Rescue officials had been deployed on the occasion.
There were reports of scuffles among devotees when food was distributed.
Syed Hussain Shah, a retired railway police officer and a resident of Mochi Gate, said the government had done a good job with the security arrangements “after two years”. In 2010, 50 people had died and 250 injured in bomb blasts.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2012.
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