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Relatively peaceful festival of minority Shia community
Publication Date : 25-12-2013
Blanket security thrown around Chehlum-related processions and events helped avoid any major incident after reports from intelligence agencies had warned of possible violence in various parts of the country.
Chehlum is a festival of minority Shia community.
Only Karachi witnessed several serious incidents.
The security arrangements in tension-ridden Rawalpindi made possible an incident-free procession, which activists of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat had threatened to disrupt.
Except for a few incidents of clashes between police and troublemakers in different parts of Rawalpindi, no major incident was reported from anywhere, much to the relief of a jittery populace which had experienced a two-day curfew for the first time in their life after a sectarian clash on the Ashura day last month. At least 12 people died in the clash.
Unlike previous years, the authorities were more concerned about security on the Chehlum day because of the recent incidents of sectarian killings in different parts of the country. The ISPR had announced on Monday that 10,000 army men had been deployed in sensitive regions of the country for Chehlum duty.
The routes of main mourning processions in almost every city, particularly in sensitive ones like Rawalpindi and Karachi, had been sealed even a day before.
As part of security measures, mobile phone services were suspended in a number of cities for almost the whole day.
Meanwhile, the Sindh home ministry has extended a ban on pillion-riding in Karachi till midnight on Wednesday.
In Rawalpindi, some activists of the ASWJ attempted to enter the main procession route several times in the day, but all their efforts were foiled by timely action of police and personnel of law-enforcement agencies.
Police resorted to tear-gas shelling, baton-charge and aerial firing at Pirwadhai and Faizabad to disperse the troublemakers who tried to block different roads after their failure to intercept the procession. As many as 30 people, including two policemen, were injured in the clashes.
In Quetta, security forces thwarted a bid to attack processions when they arrested an alleged terrorist and recovered a huge cache of arms from a vehicle coming from Afghanistan.