KARACHI: With the start of Muharram, sabeels across the city started to spring up, offering milk, juice and cold water to participants of processions, which is also accompanied by elegies played on loudspeakers.
Earlier in the month, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah imposed a ban on the use of loud speakers, which later was lifted due to protests by ulemas.
The CM said that the ban on the use of loudspeakers has been imposed under the National Action Plan. “[But] in your case, I am allowing you to use loudspeakers,” said Shah. “But its use must be made sagaciously, particularly in the light of the code of conduct. Strict action will be taken if hate speeches are delivered anywhere in the province.”
Young men set up sabeels by collecting donations from their neighbourhoods and nearby shops. A resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s Noman Grand City apartment, Syed Shakir Ali told The Express Tribune that he has been setting up sabeel for the last 16 years, with his Shia and Sunni friends. “This is the centre of all sabeels in the area,” he explained. “The rest of the sabeels will be there till Muharram 10 but our sabeel will be there until Muharram 12,” he said. “It’s just elegies [being played] over the speakers,” he said, adding that there was no traffic congestion due to sabeel, rather, they play their role in clearing the traffic in front of their sabeel.
Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said that action against the unnecessary use of loudspeakers will be taken. However, he said that the use of loudspeakers in traditional sabeels, which were set up every year, was allowed. “It’s just a matter of 10 days,” he said.
Gulshan-e-Iqbal’s assistant commissioner Shoukat Ali Ujjan said that most of the sabeels in the area were set up with permission but he did not rule out the possibility of sabeels being setup illegally. He said that there was a separate judicial magistrate for the violation of the use of the loudspeakers.
‘Fire-brand’ speakers banned
The home department has, under Section 144 (6) of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibited the entry and further stay of fire-brand sectarian speakers hailing from other provinces in the territorial limits of Sindh. The order shall remain in force from October 15 to November 1, 2015.
It has also imposed a ban on playing or possessing audio or video containing provocative speeches and wall chalking inciting sectarian hatred during Muharram across Sindh, with immediate effect.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.