Youm-e-Ali, the day of martyrdom of Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), was observed on Thursday with traditional zeal amidst tight security.
Around 400 mourning processions, besides the main zareeh procession, were taken out from various localities in Lahore. They concluded peacefully in the evening.
The main procession, attended by thousands, was taken out from Mubarik Haveli, inside the Mochi Gate, early in the morning. It culminated at Karbala Gamay Shah in the evening after marching through Mochi Gate, Lal Khoo, Fazal Haveli, Takia Nathay Shah, Koocha Shian, Chowk Nawab Sahib, Chohatta Mufti Baqar, Purani Kotwali, Kashmiri Bazaar, Dabbi Bazaar, Sunehri Masjid, Paniwala Talab, Chowk Nogaza, Chowk Tarannum Cinema, Chowk Tibbi, Bazaar Hakeeman, Chowk Novelty, Mohalla Jogian, Unchi Masjid and Bhati Gate to finally reach Karbala Gamay Shah.
The proceedings had begun with the recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by nohas and marsiyas and an account of events which led to Hazrat Ali’s (RA) martyrdom.
Led by zakirs, the procession was attended by hundreds of mourners. Many of them hitting themselves with chains (zanjir zani) and thumped their chests, while chanting: Ya Ali (RA), Ya Hussain (RA).
Majalis were also held at various places in the city to highlight the righteous caliph’s personality and achievements. Scholars and orators shed light on the sacrifices rendered by Hazrat Ali (RA) and his family.
The procession stopped for zanjir-zani at Fazal Haveli. Paramedics accompanied the procession to provide first aid to mourners.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Mubashir Bukhari, one of the mourners who held up the traditional zareeh – a metallic model of Hazrat Ali’s shrine – said this ritual symbolised Hazrat Ali’s (RA) martyrdom. “This is our way of paying tribute to him and his sacrifices,” he said.
The procession stopped for a majlis at Chowk Nawab Sahib at around 1pm and then proceeded to Chohatta Mufti Baqar and Purani Kotwali.
Addressing the mourners, Allama Muhammad Abbas Rizvi shed light on the services and sacrifices of Hazrat Ali (RA), his family and companions. “Hazrat Ali’s (RA) martyrdom taught Muslims to stand up for truth in all circumstances,” he said. The mourners then stopped at Rang Mahal for Zuhr prayers. Later, they participated in zanjeer-zani at Bhati Chowk. The participants had their iftaar at Karbala Gamay Shah.
More than 6,000 police personnel, including volunteers, were deployed along the procession’s route. All streets and alleys leading to the main procession’s route were cordoned off with barbed wire and barriers.
Surveillance cameras, metal detectors and walkthrough gates were installed at various points. Mourners were searched at four places by police before being allowed to join the main procession. Mobile phone-jammers moved along the procession and cellular phone services were suspended in the areas the procession passed through.
Sharpshooters were deployed at rooftops along the route. Nobody was allowed to watch the procession from a rooftop or balcony.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Operations DIG Dr Haider Ashraf said that residents of houses located on the route had been directed not to go to the rooftops. “Search operations were also carried out in the localities around the procession route. Elite Force units patrolled the walled city. We also used drone cameras to monitor the main procession,” he said.
Around 612 traffic wardens were deployed along the procession route. The Bomb Disposal Squad and Rescue 1122 personnel remained on high alert.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.