KARACHI: The three-day urs celebrations of the ninth-century Sufi saint Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi began in the city amid tight security on Friday. The 1,286th annual event started early in the morning.
The saint’s grave was washed by the custodians of the shrine a day earlier as per the centuries-old tradition.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan offered Fateha at the shrine after Fajr prayers and laid a wreath on it. Karachi’s deputy mayor Arshad Vohhra was also present on the occasion.
A large number of devotees visited the shrine during the first day celebrations, which will conclude on Sunday. A number of them came from the rest of the country.
On direction of Sindh inspector general police A.D. Khwaja, the city police had deployed teams and bomb disposal squad officers at the shrine.
Walk-through security gates have also been installed at the shrine’s entrance as part of the security plan.
Police officials said they put security measures in place every year on the urs since 2010 when twin blasts killed at least 10 people and injured more than 60 in an attack on the shrine. The blasts went off at the entrance as people were queuing up to enter the building.
“The best available security measures have been taken and we assure people coming here that they should feel secure while paying respect to Ghazi Baba,” said a senior police official.
He said the district police under a comprehensive plan for the security of life and property of the people was focused on intelligence collection and sharing, patrolling, snap checking, picketing, search and targeted operation.
“Security network has been made effective at all public and sensitive places in the city as part of the plan to secure the shrine,” said another official.
A medical camp has also been established at the shrine to provide urgent help to devotees in time of emergency.
While speaking to media, Governor Ibad said that to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and extremism, Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s message of love and peace had to be resurrected.
He said Sindh was the land of Sufis whose message was peace, love and brotherhood.