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Muharram 9 processions under way across country amid tight security

ISLAMABAD, JUL 28: Muharram 9 mourning processions are being taken out countrywide amid strict security, with mobile phone services suspended in some areas under a comprehensive security plan devised by law enforcement agencies to prevent any untoward incident.

A day ago, the Karachi police issued a security and traffic management plan for processions on the 8th, 9th and 10th of Muharram, under which 4,698 police personnel would be deployed across the city.

Punjab has sought the deployment of army and Rangers troops for the security of Muharram processions across the province.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also imposed Section 144 in all divisions except Malakand throughout the month, banning the display and brandishing of arms, pillion riding, use of tinted glass in vehicles, and standing of people on rooftops.

According to a respondent, a huge number of people were participating in a procession that departed from Pando Street Azakhana Imambargah.

The Punjab Police said Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar and Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman reached Rawalpindi, where they visited various Imambargahs — including the Colonel Maqbool Hussain and Liaquat Bagh Imambargahs — and the procession routes.

It further said that control rooms have been set up in all districts and all activities are being continuously monitored with the help of CCTV cameras.

Lahore Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Ali Nasir Rizvi said the procession was being provided with “foolproof security” and was expected to reach its destination at 12am tonight.

He added that 4,700 police officers were performing their duties on Pando Street, adding that policemen with snipers had been positioned on the roofs of various buildings in the area.

In a statement today, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana, said that the city police had completed the security arrangements for Muharram 9 and 10.

The CCPO stated that all processions would be monitored continuously via CCTV cameras while the ban on pillion-riding would also be ensured.

CCPO Kamyana further noted that mobile services would be suspended for specific periods on the procession routes.

The statement said all processions and Majlis would be provided with “fool-proof security”.

It added that six superintendents of police, 83 station house officers, 216 upper subordinates, women police officials and more than 11,000 police constables would be performing their duties on the occasion.

The CCPO further said that the Dolphin Squad and Police Response Unit (PRU) teams would be patrolling the areas near the routes at all times, and in case of rain, the routes would be kept open with the help of the city administration.

Punjab police asked citizens to remain vigilant and look out for “any unattended bag, motorcycle, car and any individual with suspicious actions”.

In a statement issued last night, IG Anwar directed police to ensure “foolproof security” today and tomorrow.

“Worship and paying respect will continue and there will be foolproof security for the majlis organised and processions taken out in every district of the province.”

Noting that there was a possibility that the “enemies of Pakistan and Islam might try to target citizens and law enforcement agencies on this important day”, the IG asserted it was the police’s responsibility to “maintain peace and ensure the best service delivery”.

He specifically mentioned that if any official was appointed as part of any formation or at any point — especially in the traffic, executive, Counter-Terrorism Department or Special Branch formations — they should remain even more alert.

In Karachi, the main mourning procession departed from Nishtar Park at 12pm after the main Majlis concluded, statements from the Soldier Bazaar police station said. It added that Allama Shehanshah Hussain Naqvi addressed the gathering.

Later, the Karachi traffic police said that Bahadur Yar Jung Road located near Soldier Bazaar had been opened for traffic in both directions at 2:10pm after the procession concluded.

The road had been blocked for traffic at 9:06am and the traffic had been diverted towards Lasbela from Gurumandir.

Separately, the traffic police said that MA Jinnah Road, heading towards Numaish Chowrangi, was blocked for traffic at 8:12am due to a mourning procession.

Referring to a press release it had issued earlier, the police said the traffic was being diverted to the alternative routes mentioned therein.

Earlier today, the Sindh police shared a video detailing the road blockages as part of the security measures along with the alternative routes.

It said that a procession would depart from the Imambargah on Martin Road in Liaquatabad at 9am and would reach Nishtar Park at around 12pm, where a Majlis would be held.

The procession would then culminate at Hussainiyah Iranian Imambargah in the Kharadar area, the police added.

Meanwhile, heightened security was also seen in Quetta, where a mourning procession was expected to set out from McConaghey Road and proceed towards its destination, the Nasirul Aza Imambargah, via the set routes.

Strict security arrangements and precautions taken included road blockages at various points for routine traffic, along with the suspension of mobile phone services.

Police and Frontier Constabulary teams were deployed across the city along with aerial monitoring of the situation.

The Peshawar CCPO’s Twitter account quoted Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Haroonul Rashid as saying that “three-layered security arrangements” have been made in the city’s cantonment area.

He added that along with “rooftop gunpoints” on all routes, mourning processions were being monitored through drone cameras, CCTV and surveillance camera system mobiles.

Separately, the KP police said it “took action against 9,010 people” for violating the bans imposed under Section 144 across the province.

It further said that it had taken action against dozens of people for having unregistered vehicles, using fancy number plates, having blackened [car] windows and pillion riding“.

It added that hundreds of motorcycles were taken into custody at a terminal.

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