Quetta: Today (Sunday, 20 January 2008) here in Quetta the Ashura procession culminated peacefully. Extraordinary security arrangements were taken to avert any untoward incident. In this regard, 6,000 police and paramilitary forces were deployed in the city. Army helicopters hovered overhead for aerial surveillance of the juloos routes and sensitive parts of the city. Fifty-two checkpoints were set up on the routes of the 62 imambaragah processions. All the shops and along the procession routes were sealed, and traffic remained stagnant since Saturday night.
Hundreds of Hazara volunteers performed duties with security personnel on the checkpoints and in the procession to avert any untoward incident. Close circuit and secret cameras were fixed on chowks and sensitive points to keep a vigil look on the procession. The City Government had set up a control room in District Court (Kachehri) to monitor the security of the procession.
This year thousands of mourners could not join the main procession from Hazara Town because the dasta processions from Hazara Town, Panjtan Imambargah and Wali Asar Imambargah were scheduled for third dasta in the main procession on Alamdar Road. As a result, the dasta departed Hazara Town early in the morning at 7. Most of the mourners, therefore, could not catch the trucks, buses, Suzuki cars and bikes that were supposed to carry them. The number of trucks this year was around 70 to 80, excluding the 8 to 10 buses and the many personal vehicles such as Suzuki cars and bikes. They reached the main jaloos on Alamdar Road at around 8:30.
The dasta of 62 imambaragahs reached Alamdar Road, where they merged the main jaloos and continued its traditional route of Alamdar Road, Toghi Road, Mission Road, Mezan Chowk, Liaqat Bazaar, Prince Road and McCongy Road. The dasta processions terminated at Alamdar Road in the evening. The dasta processions were scheduled in the order such as Nasirabad, Panjtan, Wali Asr, Syedabad, and others The media estimated the number of mourners to be around 25,000.
The main procession stopped at Mezan Chowk for the speeches of Allama Tawassuli, Allama Baqir and Ashraf Zaidi. They highlighted the philosophy of Imam’s martyrdom and condemned the break-away of two Laskhar-e-Jhangvi militant masterminds from jail on Thursday night, demanding from the concerned quarters for their immediate re-arrest. After their speeches, dasta processions of the said 62 Imambaragahs performed kardi and zanjeer zani, one by one.
The mourners offered zohrain prayer in Hazara Imambaragah Kalan at Prince Road, and moved on to their destinations for Sham-e-Gharibaan.
In the meantime, the imambargahs in Hazara Town and Mehrabad hosted sermons by the clergy throughout the day. The men and women who didn’t attend the dasta processions attended the sermons. Special Ashura food was prepared and served at these imambargahs, of which the people partook.
Update: See pictures of Ashura 2008 here