LAHORE - Capital City Police Officer Muhammad Amin Wains yesterday called for observing tolerance and religious harmony during the forthcoming holy month of Muharram-ul-Haram. He urged the religious leaders to teach brotherhood and inter-faith harmony to their followers as police were giving final touches to one of the biggest security operations ahead of the holy month.

Shia leaders demanded the provincial government provide funding to the authorities concerned so that walkthrough gates and metal detectors could be purchased early for security checking. They also pointed out that most of the walkthrough gates and metal-detectors available with the local police were not fully functional. Some leaders expressed their concerns over the “developments” taking place in the region and asked the police department to ensure best security arrangements for the mourners to foil the nefarious designs of anti-state elements.

Senior police officers and several Shia leaders discussed the Muharram security plan during a two-hour long meeting held at the Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh yesterday. CCPO Amin Wains presided over the parley while DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, SSP (Operations), SP Security, and SP Headquarters were also present in the meeting.

Shia leaders including Khawaja Basharat Karbalai, Agha Shah Hussain Qizalbash, Touqeer Baba, and Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jaffery were also present on this occasion besides others.

The clerics raised different security related issues on this occasion and presented suggestions to make the holy month of Muharram a peaceful period. The police chief assured the Shia leaders that the police would finalise security plan in the light of their recommendations.

Lahore CCPO made it clear that there would be zero-tolerance against the elements found involved in stoking sectarianism. “This is our humble request to all of you that controversial speakers, firebrand clerics, and those who are banned by the government, should not be invited to address Majalis and processions,” the police chief said.

He also appealed to the scholars to extend full cooperation to the policemen and take the security advisory seriously since the law enforcement and security agencies were fighting militancy on the borders and in urban parts of the country.

Muhammad Amin Wains further said that the police would fully implement the standard operating procedure, prepared for Muharram security. According to the SOP, heavy police contingents would be deployed in the sensitive and most sensitive areas to protect the mourners at Majalis, processions, and Imambargas. Similarly, the Dolphins police force and the Police Response Units will continue armed patrolling in sensitive areas. The participants of Majalis and processions will be allowed to enter the venues after proper physical search at three to four different points. “There will be three-layer security for processions on Ashura,” a police officer explained.

The field police officers were also directed to stay in touch with the officials of civil defense, Bomb disposal squad, and district administration on regular basis while implementing the security plan. The divisional SPs were asked to arrange meetings with members of peace committees to discuss the security plan.

DIG Operation Dr Haider Ashraf said that search operations were being conducted on a daily basis and combing operations would also continue in all Afghan settlements. Security will remain on high-alert at the entry and exit points of the city.  All the volunteers are being given training at Police Lines.

While talking to The Nation after the meeting, CCPO Amin Wains said that the police had almost finalized the security strategy for the holy month. He further said that in order to ensure foolproof security on the eve of Youm-e-Ashur, the personnel of Quick Response Force and Mobile Squads would continue armed patrolling across the city.

More than 6000 Majaalis and mourning processions are listed in the provincial capital, this year. Thousands of police will be deployed to provide security cover to 5369 Majalis and 615 mourning processions to be taken out from across the provincial metropolis during the month.

“Lahore police will remain on their toes to maintain peace during the holy month of Muharram. Ten thousand strong police are being mobilised to ensure best security arrangements for the mourners,” the city police chief said.

The officer, while responding to a question, said that there was no specific security threat in Lahore as far as the holy month of Muharram was concerned. “Muharram security always remains a challenging task in this sprawling city. The city police will remain on high-alert to thwart the nefarious designs of the enemy,” he said. There will be round-the-clock snap-checking at the entry and exit points.

Some 4000 processions are expected to appear in the provincial metropolis during the forthcoming Muharram-ul-Harram.

“We will put in place a comprehensive plan for the security of all the mourning processions during Muharram,” Amin Wains said.

The police chief further said that religious scholars from all schools of thought had been taken into confidence while preparing the security plans for the processions and Majaalis. He also appealed to the people to cooperate with law enforcers to ensure sectarian harmony in the society.

Earlier, religious scholars from different sects assured the police chief that they would work together for maintaining peace in the provincial capital. The CCPO also directed the field officers to consult clerics from all schools of thought to amicably resolve sectarian issues at local level to bring religious unity to the city.