Ban on pillion riding possible for Muharram
* Lahore, Multan, Jhang, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Dera Ghazi Khan declared vulnerable
By Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: The authorities are considering banning pillion riding on Muharram 9 and 10 in Lahore, Multan, Jhang, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Dera Ghazi Khan, which have been declared sensitive during Muharram, intelligence sources said on Wednesday.
The Intelligence Bureau sources informed Daily Times that despite all security arrangements, there were still violence threats from banned religious outfits.
The Punjab government high-ups have directed the inspector general of police to tour sensitive cities to ensure peace. Following the directions, the IGP visited Jhang and Faisalabad on Wednesday.
Talking to Daily Times, Punjab Home Secretary former Brig Ijaz Shah said the government believed in maintaining religious harmony. He claimed the Punjab government had not banned any religious scholar from entering the province or delivering speeches. Also it has no intention to ban pillion riding, he said.
By contrast, a senior Home Department official said the application of pillion riding ban was a prerogative of district governments, and there could be a ban on pillion riding in the six cities on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.
The intelligence sources said the Punjab Prison Department had been directed to keep vigil on visitors to sectarian prisoners. In a recent meeting with religious scholars, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had warned that no sectarian mischief would be tolerated in Muharram. All security and emergency departments including police, Special Branch, IB, provincial and district crisis management centres, Fire Brigade, Civil Defence, Bomb Disposal Squad and the emergency wards of hospitals have been put on alert.
The personnel of law enforcement agencies have been deputed at mosques and all other sensitive places to check unpleasant incidents in Muharram. Leave of all personnel has been cancelled. “Equipment like metal detectors are being provided to police and sensitive places like airports, railway stations, shopping centres, densely-populated buildings, markets and five-star hotels are under check. Instructions have been given to hotel administrations to check cars before their entry into parking lots,” sources said.
Superintendents of police will monitor security arrangements in their areas. Mujahid, Eagle and Tiger Squads will work independently. The Mujahid and Eagle squads will patrol the city whereas the Tiger squad will be deputed in the Walled City. Local peace committees have been reactivated and their members have been asked to attend Shia gatherings and processions in cooperation with local police. Directives have also been issued to check provocative audio and videocassettes and distribution of objectionable literature.
Meanwhile, addressing a meeting of clerics and police officers in the city Wednesday, Punjab Mines and Minerals Minister Sibtain Khan said the government had completed all security arrangements to maintain law and order during Muharram and reserve police contingents would be deployed in every district of Punjab on Muharram 10.
Mr Khan said special control rooms had been set up in 34 districts where police officials would perform duty round the clock, while police commandos would be deployed along all procession routes. He said Ulema should play their role in promoting religious harmony.
Sahibzada Safdar, Pir Qutab Ali, Khalid Mahmood Chishti, Noorul Hasan Gilani, Qari Muhammad Sialvi and others attended the meeting.