KARACHI: CM Murad Ali Shah orders security review of all worship places Also directs immediate restoration of power supply to Qalandar’s shrine, Committee headed by CTD chief formed to probe attack In the wake of the Sehwan attack, the Sindh chief minister ordered on Saturday that a security audit be conducted of all shrines, mosques, temples, churches and other places of worship in the province.
A blast at the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan on Thursday killed at least 86 people and injured over 250. We have to come up with an efficient system to fight against terrorists, Murad Ali Shah said while presiding over a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House.
Briefing the chief minister, IGP AD Khowaja said the blast occurred at 7.01pm and there was a power outage at the shrine at that time. In response, the auqaf secretary said it was not a routine power outage but the Hyderabad Electricity Supply Company (Hesco) had disconnected electricity supply to the shrine. The chief secretary confirmed it saying that Hesco had issued a bill of Rs40 million to the shrine’s management and taken away their main power cable over non-payment.
Expressing his displeasure, the chief minister noted that following a settlement between the Sindh government and the water and power ministry, the electricity bills of provincial departments were being paid in instalments.
He added that that it was a part of that agreement that power supply would not be disconnected to any provincial government department or its affiliated bodies.
The chief minister said it was unacceptable that Hesco had disconnected power supply to the shrine. He directed the Hyderabad commissioner, who was participating in the meeting through a video link, to order Hesco to restore power supply to the shrine at the earliest.
The commissioner, after speaking with the Hesco CEO, told the chief minister that electricity was being stolen through some illegal connections from main power cable of the shrine and that had compelled the power company to disconnect the supply.
The chief minister said he would take legal action against Hesco if the supply was not restored immediately. He added that the power company should have removed the illegal connections instead of disconnecting power supply to the shrine.
Probe body formed
The IGP told the chief minister that some people had been arrested in connection with the Sehwan blast and the attack was similar to the one on an imambargah in Shikarpur in 2015.
He added that samples had been collected from the shrine and were being sent to Lahore for laboratory tests.
The chief minister formed a committee headed by additional IG counter-terrorism department Sanaullah Abbasi to investigate the case.
The divisional commissioners through video links briefed the chief minister about the number of shrines, mosques, imambargahs and other worship places within their jurisdictions and told him that they had beefed up security there.
They further said there were 150 shrines, seven churches, and 44 temples in Larkana division, 17 shrines, six sensitive imambargahs, 50 temples in Shaheed Benazirabad division and 29 shrines, and several temples and imambargahs in Sukkur division.
The auqaf secretary told the chief minister that there were 80 shrines under his department.
The chief minister ordered that the places of worship of all faiths be provided with necessary security.
He directed the IGP to form a special team of experts to conduct the security audit and seek the assistance of the auqaf department too.
The chief minister directed divisional commissioners and DIGs to constantly monitor the security of the worship places in their talukas.
City worship places
Additional IG Karachi Mushtaq Maher said there were 6,560 mosques, 350 shrines, over 100 temples, 100 churches – 40 of them open – and three gurdwaras in the city. He added that normally 500 cops were deployed for their security but on Friday night the number was increased to 2,000.
The chief minister, on the advice of chief secretary Rizwan Memon, approved the recruitment of local “searchers – both male and female” by the auqaf department. They will be trained by police and search people visiting holy places.
He also directed the auqaf department to install CCTV cameras at all important shrines and set up a control room to monitor the movement of every visitor.
He directed the chief secretary to arrange funds for the security arrangements.
It was also decided that compound walls would be constructed around shrines where required. Earlier, the chief minister was given a closed-door briefing on the progress of the investigation into the case by the IGP and the Additional IG CTD.
The chief minister announced on Saturday compensation money for the heirs of the people killed in the Sehwan blast and also those injured in the horrific attack.
He announced Rs1.5 million for the family of each person killed and Rs1 million for each person who had lost an arm or a leg.
He also announced Rs500,000 for each person seriously injured in the attack but had not lost a limb and Rs100,000 for each person who suffered had minor injuries.
Murad Ali Shah said that in accordance with the policy of provincial government, compensation money was given only to the residents of the province but this time it was making an exception and compensating victims of other provinces too.
Talking about the verification of the victims’ identity for compensation, the chief minister said the Hyderabad commissioner would verify the claims and recommend the amount of the amount to be paid.
“We have already collected detailed records from hospitals, so there should be no problems,” he added.
He also announced that the provincial government would bear the expenditure of the treatment of the injured people.
The chief minister has ordered the removal of SSP Sehwan Tariq Vilaya and posted Tanveer Udho in his place.
The Karachi police discussed on Saturday ways to beef up the security of religious places in the city after the deadly suicide attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan.
The deliberations on the law and order took place at a meeting chaired by Karachi’s additional inspector general of police, Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar, at the Central Police Officer.
The police spokesman said the meeting discussed issues pertaining to the security of mosques, imambargahs, shrines, churches, gurdawaras, temples, government installations, shopping centres, airport, oil installations and the port.
The objective of the huddle, attended by all zonal DIGs and district SSPs, was to tighten security so as to prevent loss of precious innocent lives in incidents like the blast at the Lal Shehbaz Qalandar’s shrine, where 88 devotees died and more than 300 others were injured.