After a recent order issued by the home department for the security of minorities’ worship places, Christian and Hindu worshippers grumbled that no concrete measures had been taken. Previously the home department had ordered the police to squeeze security in view of potential terrorist attacks.
According to a notice issued by numerous SHOs to temples and churches of the garrison city, the administrations have been asked to take nine steps for their protection. These include the installation of CCTV cameras, storing one month’s footage, securing the place with barbed wire, eight-foot high boundary walls, setting up a police post on the roof, proper lighting and hiring security guards from a registered company which is verified by the police.
Entry gates and barriers should be installed as well, states the notice. Also, the police should be informed before the start of a ceremony so that they can make security arrangements. Representatives of minorities said provision of security is the responsibility of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).
Hindu-Sikh Social Welfare Council President Jag Mohan Arora stated that “ETPB is the guardian of all temples and it is their responsibility to provide funds for security requirements. In 2010, we received the same notice and we informed the police as well as EPTB officials, but the latter paid no heed despite repeated requests and visits. We are in the habit of lamenting after a tragedy occurs but who cares.”
Chairman Clergy Association of Pakistan and pastor St. Paul’s Church, Rawalpindi, Dr Samuel Titus said security is provided to big churches only on special events. After a suicide attack on a church in Peshawar, the government allowed us to make our own safety measures but when we applied for arms licenses, the government prohibited the applications.
Dr Samuel Titus: “We have urged the government to permit arms licenses for churches,”. We are capable of protecting our worship places but the government should also take some initiative. It is impossible for a security guard to stop an attacker equipped with sophisticated weapons with a stick.
Mian Maqbool Rawalpindi Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) said, “We have already taken steps to protect churches and temples. On special occasions like Diwali or Christmas we provide foolproof security to them. We even provided parking space which was protected.” At the same time, he brought up the issue of a shortage of police personnel, while speaking about enhanced security.
A delegation is expected to arrive for celebrations of Besakhi from India on April 10th for which we have made arrangements, he added.