LAHORE - The Punjab government has banned pillion riding on 9th and 10th day of Muharram-al-Haram, according to a notification issued on Saturday.

As per the document issued by Home Department, gathering of five or more persons except those included in the tazia processions after approval from the district government will be banned. Standing on the buildings’ roofs on the tazia routes will be banned.

Moreover, any obstruction in the way of processions will not be allowed, the notification reads.

Presiding over a meeting on law and orderon September 22, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the law enforcement agencies and the administration to ensure foolproof security at all sensitive places and religious sites during the holy month of Muharram.

Shehbaz said that peace committees should be activated at the district level and they should work to promote religious harmony in districts. He said that control rooms should be set up at province, division, district and tehsil level and four-tier security should be provided to mourning processions. He said that a report be presented to him after hundred percent audit of CCTV cameras, generators, lights, walkthrough gates, metal detectors and other security equipment. No compromise will be made on publication and distribution of objectionable material and indiscriminate action should be initiated in case of any violation, he said.

The chief minister said that strict action be taken against the elements involved in provocative speeches and observance of code of conduct be ensured at every cost. He said that violation of anti wall-chalking law would not be tolerated. He directed the authorities to expedite combing operations in the province. No leniency could be tolerated therefore law enforcement agencies should remain fully alert and use their professional capabilities to ensure peace in Muharram. In Muharram, he said, every possible step should be taken to promote religious harmony. He said that Muharram security plan should be implemented in letter and spirit and additional force should be deployed at mosques, Imambargahs and other places of importance. He said that law enforcement agencies should maintain a close liaison with each other and ensure rule of law at any cost. He said that indiscriminate action should be initiated against those taking law into their hand.

The Punjab Police have stepped up security by employing tens of thousands of police to guard mourning processions and sittings.  With the onset of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, authorities threw a massive security blanket across province. Armed patrolling and security searches are intensified in all major cities with record deployment of police force. At least 125,000 police are expected to take part in security operations.

A senior official told The Nation that the police would remain on high-alert till Ashura (10th of Muharram). “Paramilitary troops will also assist district administration during security operations in all major cities of the province. Military units will remain on standby,” the official said. He said that paramilitary troops will be also be deployed in the most sensitive districts before Ashura.

On the other hand, Punjab Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz Khan said that the mourning processions and sittings would be given four-layer security in order to maintain peace in the province.

The provincial police chief said that at least 125,000 policemen would be deployed on security duties throughout the province. Khan also ordered the regional and district police officers to personally supervise the security operations in their respective areas.

­The meeting was informed that at least 37,398 Police Qaumi Razakar, 5580 special police, and 85,515 volunteers will perform security duties for Muharram processions and Majalis in addition to 125,000-strong police force.

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.

The police chief 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.