The Ministry of Interior announced on Tuesday, a two-day public holiday on account of the Ashura, 9th and 10th Muharram. Essentially, the holiday will fall on Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30.
The notification read,
It is notified for general information that 29th and 30th August, 2020 (Saturday and Sunday) shall be public holidays on the occasion of Ashura (9th and 10th Muharram 1442 AH).
In the light of the notification, all private and government offices, educational institutes, business organizations, and other activities will be put on hold for the two days.
Muharram is the revered month of Muslims. It is a month of mourning of the seventh-century oppressive martyrdom of the Muslim leader and grandson of the Prophet (PBUH), Imam Husayn (AS). The day of Ashura holds substantial importance as it is the day of his (AS) sacrifice.
Provinces of Sindh and Punjab have passed certain orders in effect to the Ashura processions observation.
Sindh Increases Restrictions
Sindh will observe strict law and order during the span of Ashura.
Pillion riding has been banned for the entirety of the Ashura. The imposition of such has been rendered to avoid any unforeseen episode or a lethal accident. Law and order will be observed with the utmost severity by law enforcement departments.
However, this ban exempts certain groups. This includes journalists, law enforcement sector members, women, children under 12 years of age, and senior citizens.
Essentially, the imposed ban arrives under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Furthermore, the ban also extends to ammunition and arms carrying. Gathering of five or more persons in a place (with the exemption of the Ashura cavalcades) will not be allowed. Offensive and instigating wall-chalking/graffiti/posters/banners, cavalcades without a permit, and aerial firing will be strictly dealt with.
Though, according to the notification, the ban pertaining to ammunition and arms carrying is not applicable to the security officials.
There will be no permission for spreading hate-speech through any type of audio or video medium.
Punjab Publishes The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Likewise, Punjab has imposed the restriction of pillion riding for the Ashura along with the exemptions.
Security will be tightened for the areas where processions are taking place. The province has opted for military deployment for increased security.
In addition to this, the Punjab Primary and Secondary Health Department (P&SHD) has published the protective guidelines for the public gatherings. Health officials are dreadfully expecting a rise in the COVID-19 cases with the opening of businesses and institutions. Consequently, these cases will propel the second wave of the pandemic.
The notification essentially reads,
Activities involving gathering of people during Muharram like Majalis, rallies, Zuljinnah & Alam processions, etc., are prone to close contact, surface sharing and environmental contamination with COVID-19 infection. Thus, abiding by preventive measures and strict compliance of SOPs is very important during all events regarding Muharram Majalis & processions.
The SOPs include constant handwashing, use of sanitizers, disinfecting, wearing masks, and social distancing.
Also read: Moon Sighted For Muharram 1442 AH