LAHORE: Two companies of the Punjab Rangers were deployed in the city overnight to provide added security up till Muharram 10.
Superintendent of Police (Security) Faisal Rana said the 600 Rangers personnel would guard Muharram processions, which are regular targets of terrorist attacks. Some 20,000 Punjab policemen have already been deployed in Lahore.
The SP said that 45 officials working in eight-hour shifts were checking travellers for weapons and explosives using sniffer dogs, which had been especially deployed for Muharram, at the eight entry points to the city.
Rana said that the route of the main procession had been cleared and surrounded by barbed wire barricades. He said 27 cameras would be installed in Mochi Gate, where the main mourning procession will begin. Some cameras have already been installed while the rest will be set up on Muharram 8 along with walkthrough gates.
Mochi Gate DSP Asif Javed said that the residents of houses along the route of the main procession had signed affidavits pledging not to allow any guests to stay in their houses without police clearance or to shelter any suspects; not to open windows facing the procession; and not to say any thing offensive about any religion or sect. Javed said that the bomb disposal squad would clear the routes of processions two hours before they start. All letter boxes and phone boxes have been removed from the procession routes. Police personnel in plain clothes are patrolling the area round the clock.
Elite Force, Mujahid Squad and quick response force personnel are assisting in the security operation. Intelligence agents have also been deployed in Lahore for the month of Muharram.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2010.
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