LAHORE-Police threw a massive security blanket across the city as families rushed to shopping with the onset of the holy month on Wednesday evening.

Thousands of police were deployed around worship places, markets, and important roads in the downtown. Police also intensified armed patrolling to counter street criminals amid huge rush of shoppers in bazaars.

Many people thronged to grocery stores for shopping as markets remained opened till late Wednesday night. A number of grocery stores were decorated with lights not only to attract customers but also to welcome the shoppers with flat discounts on various products. The prices of some edibles swelled significantly, traders said, citing high demand.

The shopping malls located on the main boulevards were packed to capacity particularly in the posh localities. The rush of shoppers also caused traffic snarls on different city roads.

A police spokesman Wednesday said that at least 12,000 police were deployed on security duties in Lahore to guard major worship places, shopping malls, and other public points.

“In addition to 12,000 police, at least 13,000 volunteers are also engaged for security operations. The police patrolling has been intensified around mosques and imambargahs,” the spokesman said.

He said the patrolling units including Dolphin Squad and the Police Response Unit are also activated in the sensitive areas. The police also intensified armed patrolling to counter street criminals on the roads.

Additional police guards were deployed around busy markets in Iqbal Town, Faisal Town, Johar Town, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Ichhra, Shadman, Anarkali, Liberty Market, Gulberg, Defense, Model Town, and the Walled City.

Traffic officers in the congested localities were struggling to clear the mess.

On the other hand, motorists experienced worst traffic mess on major roads in different parts of the city. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main boulevard Iqbal Town, Canal Road, Defense Road, Shahkam Chowk, Shahdara, and Shalimar.

According to the city traffic police department, more than 2,000 traffic wardens were on duties in the field. Also, at least two DSP-rank officers, eleven DSPs, 38 senior traffic wardens and 62 patrolling officers were engaged to oversee traffic management.

An official said additional traffic wardens were also deployed in densely populated areas to ensure smooth flow of traffic during Sehri, Aftari and Taraveeh timings.

Earlier, DIG (Operations) Moeen Masood ordered the city police to step up search and combing operations against suspects elements. On Wednesday evening, police heightened security searches at the entry and exit points of the metropolis.

As part of the security strategy, the city police will continue search operations around the worship places declared as “sensitive” and “most sensitive” in the metropolis.