LAHORE - The Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence have joined hands with the police and paramilitary troops to intensify the ongoing security sweep in Lahore ahead of Ashura.
Rangers-led teams consisting of representatives of ISI and MI are taking part in the search operations to hunt down terror suspects in the metropolis. The local police are assisting the intelligence operatives in the midnight raids.
The police in Punjab last week mounted the biggest security operation in recent years by employing tens of thousands of personnel to guard mourning processions and sittings in the Islamic month of Muharram. The government has banned pillion ride on 9th and 10th of Muharram across the province.
A senior official confirmed to The Nation on Tuesday that special teams were carrying out operations in most sensitive and important parts of the city. “Each team consists of 27 personnel -- 21 Rangers personnel, one representative of ISI and MI each and four police constables from the local police station,” the official explained. They are conducting door-to-door searches in different parts of the sprawling city.
From the Rangers, he said, a DSP-rank officer, one inspector, one sub-inspector, 16 constables and two women constables were included in each team. Officers are using biometric machines to verify particulars of individuals.
The latest joint operation was carried out in the Sanda police area late on Monday night. Officers searched a number of houses, rented accommodations, hotels and shops during the exercise that lasted for hours. The Rangers personnel cordoned off a major portion of the area to check movement of suspected persons.
An official said that some suspects were detained during the operation in the densely populated area, but he did not give further details.
Local residents said they were caught by surprise as they saw paramilitary troops patrolling on gun-fitted vehicles in the low-income neighbourhood. “People willingly cooperate with paramilitary troops since they behave politely with citizens. We understand that they are doing this for our safety,” says Hafiz Arsalan, who lives in Sanda.
With the onset of the holy month of Muharram, authorities threw a massive security blanket across the province. Armed patrol and security searches have been intensified in all major cities with record deployment of police force. At least 125,000 policemen are performing security duties across the province to guard mourning processions and sittings.
Earlier, a senior police officer told this reporter that police would remain on high alert till Ashura (10th of Muharram). Paramilitary troops will also be deployed in most sensitive districts of the province before Ashura, he added.
Inspector General of Punjab Police Arif Nawaz Khan had said last week that mourning processions and sittings would be given four-layer security cover. According to the provincial police chief, at least 125,000 policemen would be deployed on security duties throughout the province. The police were also directed to ensure video recordings of all major processions and Majalis.
As per police security plan, at least 37,398 Police Qaumi Razakars, 5,580 special police and 85,515 volunteers will perform security duties for Muharram processions and Majalis in addition to 125,000-strong police force. Field police officers have been told to take peace committee members into confidence while implementing security plans.
Similarly, the field staff will launch a crackdown on display of firearms and vehicles with unauthorised number plates, tinted glasses, blue lights and green number plates.
Lahore Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains said that police would show zero tolerance towards people involved in sectarianism. The officer asked religious leaders not to invite controversial speakers, firebrand clerics and those who are banned by the government.
( The Nation)