Rawalpindi/Islamabad: Elaborate security arrangements have been made to guard the main procession of 10th Muharram-ul-Harram in the city. Three layers of security are in place in the city, with all linking roads along the route of procession have been sealed off by placing containers and barbwires. Nobody would be allowed to join the procession without security check. As part of security measures, cell phone service would partially be suspended along the route of main procession and pillion riding is completely banned in the city. Even licensed weapons cannot be carried or displayed.

More than 4,000 policemen in uniform and plain clothes and personnel of Quick Respond Force have been deployed to protect the main procession backed by round-the-clock surveillance with 450 CCTV cameras. Moreover, 8 vehicles equipped with CCTV cameras and mobile phone jammers would also be moved along with main procession. Air surveillance would also be carried out through helicopters. Similarly, 10 companies of Pakistan Rangers have also been deployed to keep the city peaceful whereas 16 companies of Pakistan Army would be on standby position to tackle any crunch moment. Ladies police force, personnel of Special Branch and Elite Force Commandoes would also be on duty on the occasion, informed SSP (Operations) Karamat Ullah Malik while talking to The Nation yesterday.

All four provinces had recommended to the federal government to direct cellular companies to shut mobile services on 9th and 10th of Muharram, as security agencies believe cellphones may be used by terrorists in the planning and execution of their nefarious activities. According to details, 1,766 Majalis are being organised in different localities of Rawalpindi today while 316 big and small processions will also be taken out from different parts of the city that will merge with the main procession on 10th Muharram. The main procession will be taken out from Ashiq-e-Hussain Imambargah and after passing through Committee Chowk, College Road, Raja Bazaar and Jamia Masjid Road, it will culminate at Imambargah Qadeemi. The district government has also set up special control rooms to monitor the processions.

According to Karamat Ullah Malik, a foolproof security plan has been devised to guard the main procession of 10th Muharram along with other small and big processions that would be taken out in the city. He said that a total of 4,000 well-equipped police jawans would be on duty to protect the main procession. They would be assisted by 35 groups of quick response force, besides Rangers personnel. He said that the cellular phone service would also be suspended along the main route of procession. He said that surveillance cameras and a special purpose police vehicle with night vision facilities will monitor the Ashura procession. He added that in line with the Punjab home department instructions, special vehicles having the ability to jam explosive and remote-controlled time devices would also move along the Ashura procession.

“Bomb disposal squad has also checked the main procession route,” he said adding that all the roads and streets have been blocked by police with containers and razor wires to stop infiltration of suspects. “The managements of processions have also been directed to depute their own men to frisk the mourners before entering the procession,” the SSP said. He said that parking lots would be established far from the procession. He said that no one would be allowed to destroy peace in the city and all resources would be used to keep the city peaceful. He said that the government has banned entry of some 28 clerics in the twin cities to prevent them from fanning sectarianism. “The city administration and law-enforcement agencies are in contact with each other while police are continuously patrolling the city,” Karamat Ullah Malik informed.

Meanwhile, processions in connection with 9th Muharram were taken out in different parts of the federal capital and Rawalpindi amid tight security. Security arrangements were in place for the processions and majalis. Cellular services in several parts of the city remained suspended keeping in view the security threats to the processions.

A day earlier, a suicide bomber attacked an Imambargah near Quetta which left 10 people dead and over a dozen injured. The interior ministry had directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to suspend cellular services in 68 districts across the country, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Gilgit-Baltistan. In addition to the suspension of cellular services, a ban has also been imposed on pillion riding of motorbikes in several metropolitan cities including Islamabad. The mobile phone users suffered due to suspension of the cellular service.

The main procession of the city was taken out from G-6 Imambargah. The personnel of army and rangers were deputed around Lal Masjid and other areas of the city to avert any unpleasant incident.

Meanwhile, comprehensive arrangements have been made to observe Youm-e-Ashur, the 10th of Muharram-ul-Harram, today with religious zeal to pay homage to Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions, who laid down their lives to preserve uprightness of Islam in Karbala. Federal and provincial governments have made strict security arrangements to ensure safety of people. The law enforcement agencies have been put on high alert throughout the country to deal with any eventuality. Hundreds of `sabeels’ of milk and `sherbat’ will be set up along traditional routes of processions on Ashura. Azadars will also distribute langar (free food) among participants on the occasion. The administrations of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have finalised arrangements to provide complete security to the processions of Zuljanah, Alam and Tazia. Heavy security personnel have been deployed in District Rawalpindi to ensure security of majalis and Muharram processions.

The main procession of Islamabad would be taken out from sector G-6 and culminate after passing through its traditional routes. Around 10,000 security personnel have been deployed in the federal capital for security of processions. The routes of the main procession of Ashura have completely been sealed and streets on the route of the processions would also be barricaded.