Muharram security: 100 Afghans netted in police sweep

Teams of City Division police raids areas with sizable Afghan populations and rounds up people without ID.


Rameez Khan December 06, 2010

LAHORE: The police detained over 100 Afghans on Sunday night in a pre-emptive security sweep ahead of Muharram.

Teams of the City Division police raided areas with sizable Afghan populations and rounded up people without identification documents, a day after the Punjab Police inspector general (IG) demanded strict security measures for Shia processions in Muharram.

Inspector Ahmad Adnan Sultan said that at least 84 Afghan suspects had been taken into custody from Bazaar Sada Karain, Pathar Haveli and Nalay Wali Sarak in the jurisdiction of Mochi Gate police station after they had failed to produce valid identification documents.

He said all foreigners who were unable to produce identification could be taken into custody under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He said the raiding teams were not sent out to target Afghans, but all the detainees were Afghans.

Inspector Mian Muhammad Amin said at least 20 Afghans had been detained in the jurisdiction of Gowalmandi police station. He said these raids would continue throughout Muharram.

He said the police could detain anyone who was unable to prove their identity, explain their purpose for being in the location they were checked at, or explain what their source of income was.

Inspector Muhammad Sharif Sindhu said teams from Shahdara police station raided over 250 houses belonging to Afghans in Yousaf Park and would check other neighbourhoods with significant Afghan populations soon. He said the police teams did not arrest anyone as they all had their documents.

SP Dr Shehzad Asif of the City Division police said around 80 Afghans had been taken into custody and had been released after their relatives came forward to produce their documents and verify their identities. “This operation was not meant to target Afghans,” he said.

He advised Pakistani nationals and foreigners to carry identification with them at all times to avoid trouble. “People roaming or loitering near the routes of Muharram processions will be taken into custody under Section 55/109 of the Vagabond Act,” he warned.

He said that security preparations for Muharram were almost complete. Officials from the police, city government and Wapda would sit with the organisers of the processions and finalise the security plans. All garbage bins, letter boxes and phone booths would be removed, when possible, from near procession routes, he said.

IG’s instructions

On Saturday, IG Tariq Saleem Dogar had told a conference of regional police officers and district police officers to coordinate closely with the intelligence agencies and local peace committees regarding processions routes and venues of majalis.

He directed that CCTV cameras be set up to record all processions and gatherings so the participants could be identified. He said the organisers would be held responsible for the behaviour of the speakers.

The IG directed the police officers to include local volunteers in the security measures as they would be good at identifying unfamiliar faces at majalis and processions.

The meeting was informed that some 36,031 majalis would be held and 9,690 mourning processions would be taken out in Punjab during Muharram, guarded by 126,117 policemen.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2010.

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