190 Clerics Banned from Entering Rawalpindi Division During Muharram
RAWALPINDI: In the preparation of the month of Muharram, the Punjab government has banned entry of 190 ulema and Zakirs in the Rawalpindi division.
The inter-provincial movement of religious leaders is already banned during the month.
According to police sources, of the 190 ulema, the entry of 39 has been banned in the Rawalpindi district, 91 in Attock, 18 in Jhelum and 45 in Chakwal. As many as 77 of the clerics belonged to the Shia, 95 to Deobandi and 18 Barelvi schools of thought.
The government has also decided to register cases against the organisers of majalis in which any banned ulema or Zakirs would be invited.
“No ulema from other parts of the province will be allowed to enter Rawalpindi or visit other districts during Muharram,” Regional Police Officer (RPO) Mohammad Wisal Fakhar Sultan Raja said.
In addition to the entry ban, the names of those included in the police watch list under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 are being updated. The RPO said individuals placed on the watch-list were under surveillance by the police and security officials.
In the Rawalpindi division, more than 725 processions and 3,800 majalis have been put in the highly sensitive ‘A’, less sensitive ‘B’ and low sensitive ‘C’ categories.
Imambargah Qasr-e-Shabbir at Dhoke Syedan, which had been included in the ‘C’ category, was targeted by a suicide bomber in November 2012 killing at least 15 people and injuring over 35 others.
The RPO said there was no specific security threat regarding Muharram but the police were taking all possible measures to ensure peace during the month.
He said it was for the first time that separate security plans had been made for every procession.
He said a total of 15,000 personnel, including police, Punjab Constabulary, Elite Force and the traffic police would perform security duty during Muharram processions.
In reply to a question regarding intelligence reports about the presence of sympathisers of self-styled Islamic State (IS) in Attock, the RPO cautiously said: “Since Attock is a very sensitive district, the pace of ongoing search operation is being increased there and a list of individuals placed on the police watch list is being updated. They are also being kept under surveillance.”
He emphasised the need for physical search of individuals participating in the Muharram processions and Majalis rather than using scanners or walk-through gates.
The display of arms has already been banned and anyone found violating the ban would be booked under the National Action Plan.
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