LAHORE - Police yesterday mounted one of the biggest security operations in Lahore as mourners take out main procession to commemorate the sacrifices of Imam Hussain (RA) on the eve of Ashura.

Lahore police yesterday held a flag march to improve a sense of security among citizens.

Patrolling police chief, SP Syed Karrar Hussain led the flag march in which 200 elite police commandoes on 20 vehicle and 50 motorbikes participated.

The flag march started from Qurban Lines and terminated at the same place after passing through the Mall Road Bridge, Garhi Shahu, Railways Station, Lorry Adda, Data Darbar, Gamay Shah, Pando Street Islampura, Shadman, Iqbal Town, and Model Town.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf told The Nation that the police are put on their toes to maintain peace and harmony in the holy month. “We have taken all possible security measures to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-state elements.”

Search operations against strangers are underway across the city. Police yesterday night detained over 20 suspects during search and security sweep launched in different parts of the metropolis. A police spokesperson said that hundreds of cops are taking part in the search operations underway in the sensitive and most sensitive areas.

Thousands of policemen and hundreds of paramilitary troops are on patrol on leading roads in the provincial metropolis to protect Shia community.

As part of security measures, pillion-riding is banned in Lahore while mobile phone service would be suspended in many big cities of the Punjab province.

According to DIG Operations, there is four-layer security on the route of the main procession. The policemen are directed to carry out snap-checking and physical search of every person at four different points before allowing anyone to join the main procession.

Hundreds of CCTV cameras are installed on the routes of the main procession and a good number of plainclothesmen are deployed among the mourners to deeply monitor the security situation.

“Out of total 15,000 policemen deployed on security duties across Lahore, at least 5000 cops are put on-guard on the route of the main Ashura procession,” the officer said.

Many parts of the provincial metropolis are virtually sealed off with massive police deployment. Armed patrolling was intensified yesterday evening in the Walled City where many military troops are also put on high-alert to deal with any untoward happening.

Officials said there are no specific security threats this year but the police and other law enforcement agencies are leaving no stone unturned to make Muharram a peaceful month for the mourners.

Earlier, police high-ups held several meetings with the religious leaders and scholars of different schools of thought to take all the communities into confidence. The deployment of police force, details of the scheduled mourning processions, and Majalis, and security strategies were shared with the administration of Imambargahs.

The provincial government has urged the religious scholars to ensure proper coordination with the police as far as security arrangements for the religious places are concerned.

Police sources said all the superintendents of police (SPs) and divisional SPs are directed to personally check police deployment in their respective jurisdiction. The field officers are directed to use metal detectors for physical-checking around sensitive places while snap-checking was intensified at the entry and exit points of the metropolis.

Apart from police commandoes, hundreds of policewomen are also taking part in security operations. Over 100 sharp-shooters are deployed on-guard on high-rise building.

A police officer said that a central control room had already been activated at the office of Lahore DIG (Operations) from where cops are monitoring security situation minute-by-minute.