LAHORE - Punjab inspector general of police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera yesterday called for close coordination among the law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies to ensure foolproof security for the mourners in the holy month of Muharram.

The provincial police officer while presiding over a meeting at the central police office directed the police to ensure three-layer security for big gatherings and processions. The police will ensure a complete ban on the use of loudspeaker

Sukhera said that video recordings of all major and sensitive processions and Majalis will also be ensured. The Punjab police chief stated this while chairing a video-link conference of all the regional and district police officers of the province.

The RPOs and DPOs joined the conference via video-link while senior officers including additional-IG Sohail Khan, Capt (Retired) Arif Nawaz, Faisal Shahkar, Muhammad Tahir Roy, Aamir Zulfiqar Khan, and Shehzada Sultan were present on this occasion.

The participants of the conference discussed in detail the security plan for Muharram processions and Majalis. The IGP directed the RPOs and DPOs to personally check and monitor security arrangements for major and sensitive Majalis and processions in their divisions and districts, along with regular briefing to the police personnel deployed on the procession routes to keep spirit of responsibility high in context of the sensitive event.  

On this occasion, Punjab Additional-IG (Operations) Capt (Retired) Arif Nawaz briefed the police chief about the security deployment. He said that at least 200,000 police officers and officials will perform security duties during Muharram processions and Majalis. Similarly, at least 43000 “Police Qaumi Razakar” and 98000 volunteers will also help police ensure best security for Muharram processions and Majalis.

Also, the IGP directed the regional and district police officers to issue special identity cards to the deployed security personnel so that their identity could be verified and to make sure that security point in-charges should be personally familiar with the police officials on duty under their command.

Sukhera further directed the field officers to launch a crackdown against display of firearms, vehicles with unauthorized number plates, tinted glasses, and blue lights and green number plates. The Loud Speaker Act should be implemented strictly and legal action should be carried out against the violators without any discrimination.

The officers were also asked to take peace committees members into confidence while implementing security plans. The IGP also urged the officers to ensure close coordination with peace committees members to effectively implement the plan.

The provincial police last week mounted one of the biggest security operations across the province to protect mourners in Muharram. A comprehensive security plan was approved for the crucial month of Muharram at a time when a massive crackdown is underway against firebrand clerics and extremists.

Official sources said there were no specific security threats but the police and other law enforcement agencies were asked to remain on their toes to make Muharram a peaceful month. For this purpose, all types of leaves for policemen are canceled while new postings and transfers are banned till Ashura, a police official said. “The entire police staff is being mobilized to implement the security strategy”.

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 during the deliberations. Similarly, all the license-holders of mourning processions and organizers and managers of Majalis and Imambargahs recommended proposals to ensure foolproof security for the mourners.

Furthermore, hundreds of clerics named in the fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act have been put under surveillance across Punjab. The police warned that there would be zero-tolerance against the elements found involved in stoking sectarianism. Dozens of controversial speakers and firebrand clerics are banned by the government and they cannot address Majalis and processions.