Cell-phone services will be suspended in some parts of Lahore on Youm-e-Ali (RA), a day after the same measure was taken by Karachi’s administration, to ward off any untoward incident today (Sunday).
Services will be suspended in the areas where the processions will pass and its surrounding localities. Finalising its security plan on Saturday, the Punjab government declared nine districts of the province, including Lahore, sensitive. In addition to imposing Section 144 on procession routes, pillion riding has also been banned.
The sensitive-declared districts include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur. A senior police official told The Express Tribune that Rangers have also been called in for security in Faisalabad and Rahim Yar Khan.
Lahore CCPO Zulfiqar Hameed said that 5,500 policemen and 160 police commandos in civil clothes, will be deployed along the procession route, with walk-through gates installed at four points. He said 170 CCTV cameras have been installed and a special control room has been made at the CCPO’s office as well.
Preparations in Sindh
In Karachi, authorities have removed illuminated billboards installed en-route to the main Youm-e-Ali (RA) procession. They have only removed those boards that are boxed and have lights installed within.
The city government took the decision as police feared that militants can plan improvised explosive device (IED) attacks by hiding them inside the billboards where the lights are installed.
Last Muharram, militants attempted to carry out an attack the same way on MA Jinnah Road.
Separately, security has also been beefed up in Hyderabad. Over 1,000 personnel will provide security to the procession and at least 30 streets intersecting with the route will be cordoned off by barbed wire.
The participants will enter the procession from walk-through gates installed at its place of origin. The police snipers will be deployed at 40 buildings along the way on which 12 CCTV cameras have been installed. Pillion riding has also been banned.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.