Police asked to trace 102 missing militants

RAWALPINDI: Expressing concerns over the disappearance of over 100 militants placed on the watch list and the possibility of their joining disruptive activities in Muharram, the Punjab home department has directed the police across the province to make arrangements to avoid the repeat of the 2013 Ashura violence in Raja Bazaar in which 13 people were killed.

“As many as 102 militants placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act have been missing from their homes. They mostly belonged to Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The possibility of their taking part in disruptive activities in Muharram cannot be ruled out,” the directive issued to the police stated.

The home department also directed the law enforcement agencies to trace the missing militants besides keeping an eye on elements recently released from jails and obtain surety bonds from them.

Home dept fears that fourth schedulers may take part in disruptive activities during Muharram

The law authorities concerned were also directed to beef up security around high-profile detainees in various jails and monitor the movement of those placed on the Fourth Schedule and activists of the defunct banned organisations.

When asked if there was any specific terror threat to Rawalpindi and what steps were being taken to avoid the repeat of Ashura 2013 violence, City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Ahmed Abbasi told Dawn: “At the moment there is no specific terror threat to Rawalpindi from any militant group but we are taking no chances.”

He added: “However, we have learnt a lesson from the Raja Bazaar sectarian violence of 2013 and mistakes committed by the then administration and police command will not be repeated.”

The CPO said all the mistakes committed by the then police command were kept in mind while chalking out a security plan for Muharram this year.

He said it would be ensured that all the senior police officers remained on duty to command the force and the ban on the use of loudspeaker is strictly implemented. Besides, Rangers and elite force personnel would be deployed at all the sensitive places, he added.

Based on past experience and intelligence reports, the home department has asked the divisional police chiefs to strictly enforce the SOP of security to avoid the repeat of the sectarian violence in Rawalpindi.

On the basis of intelligence reports, more than 60 vulnerable points have been identified in Rawalpindi, the second highest on the list of sensitive regions after Faisalabad where 69 points were declared as vulnerable.

Besides, banning the inter-district movement of some activists, speakers and gagging of several others had been suggested.