January 10, 2007 (Islamabad): The Central Royeth e Hilal Committee (A government committee responsible for determining the sighting of moon for important Islamic occasions such as Eid and commencement of Islamic lunar months) announced that the month of Muharram ul Harram would start from Friday, January 11. The government has set the security on “high alert” in the whole country and has declared 35 districts “sensitive” during the months of Muharram.
Quetta Police officials have said that 6,000 policemen will be deployed on 9th Muharram and the eve of Ashura to ensure safe passage of the mourning processions . They said that a total of 52 checkpoints have been set up on routes of 62 imambaragahs ( there is a large number of imambaragahs, but only 62 are registered) to ensure the security of the faithful. The government has declared 5 imambaragahs “highly sensitive,” and have set up combined checkposts of the police and the Frontier Corps.
A police official, while talking to journalists here in Quetta Press Club, said that about 1,200 police personnel will be deployed from 1st to 5th Muharram, 3,000 personnel from 6th to 8th and 6,000 will be deployed on the eve of Ashura. The government will also deploy personnel of other law enforcement agencies at sensitive places in the city. They will also patrol to avert any untoward incident. Also, if needed, military will be deployed in some sensitive areas, the government has announced.
Meanwhile, the District Government Quetta has decided to impose ban on displaying of all sorts of arms during Muharram. It has decided that only personnel of law enforcement agencies would carry their official arms druing their duties. On the eve of Ashura, the main traditional route from Alamdar Road to Liaqat Bazaar, Prince Road and MecCongy Road will be protected by laying barbed wires so that no irrelivent person should enter the procession.
The bomb disposal squad will also remain vigilant from the 1st to 10th Muharram in the city.
These security measurs have been announced in the wake of the recent unrest in the country and the historic religious violence in Quetta during Moharram.
Sectarian violence reportedly started in Quetta in 1999, peaking in 2004 when more than 70 people were killed in an attack on the Ashura procession in Mezan Chowk. Another attack on the Imambagah e Kalaan in the same year killed 64 people.
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