Security precautions during Muharram
This is apropos of the report, “Sectarian attack unnerves Karachi” (Nov 19) and your editorial ‘Muharram fears’ (Nov 20).
Despite extensive security measures a bomb blast still took place near the Masjid-o-Imambargah Mohammad-i-Mustafa.
Imambargahs, majalis venues and roads on which Ashura processions take place are vulnerable due to a large number of people attending them.
The following steps are suggested to avoid any tragedy.
1) The management of every imambargah should form a ‘watch’ committee of volunteers to monitor security. A team of young unarmed volunteers should be formed to carry out round-the-clock watch and to carryout body search of all persons entering the Imambargah and to observe any suspicious activity inside and around the imambargah and other large venues.
2) Imambargahs should be combed before and after a majlis is to be held to ensure that no suspicious objects are lying or concealed anywhere inside or close to the venue. Any suspicious item should warrant an immediate call to the police.
3) All entrances to the imambargah should remain locked except the main one which should be manned either by the policemen or by volunteers.
4) All windows and openings of the imambargah should have iron grills, with a wire-mesh covering, so that no one is able to intrude or throw something like a hand grenade from outside.
5) In the more prominent imambargahs, the government can consider installing CCTV surveillance cameras.
6) Rooftops and balconies of buildings on both sides of the procession route should be manned by police/Rangers.
7) All alums, tazias and duldul horse scanned/searched for hidden explosives and mourners walking along with them should be constantly kept under observation by volunteer guards or scouts.
However, cellular phone services should not be suspended on 9th and 10th of Muharram in the name of security. Because suspension of cellular phone service not only causes inconvenience for its subscribers but it becomes a security and safety risk for the subscribers as they cannot call any emergency service like Emergency police, Fire Brigade, Bomb Disposal Squad and ambulance in the event of robbery, fire, road accident or some medical emergency in their house during the mobile phone suspension duration.
It should be the responsibility of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and the cellular companies to monitor the calls and messages of cell phones. It is pertinent to note that during Olympics in London this year despite apprehending threats of terrorist attack cellular phone services was never suspended for even a single day.
Security was kept tight without disturbing the people.
SQN LDR (Retd) S. AUSAF HUSAIN