Balochistan: We Have Lost Count By Mir Sohaib Mengal
The bodies kept falling and we, the Baloch activists, kept counting. In January 2011, within a span of just few months, the number of bullet-riddled bodies grew up to 70.
It was July 2010. I was in Karachi back then for my CA. One day I received a text on my mobile phone from a Baloch friend that bullet-riddled body of missing Faizullah Baloch has been found. We couldn’t believe it. Abduction by intelligence agencies was a daily routine in Balochistan. But we couldn’t understand why they would kill him. He was in their custody, they could detain him forever but what was the point in killing him? Some of us argued that it couldn’t be agencies because why would they want to defame themselves by killing and throwing Baloch activists in such a brutal manner. But we were wrong, Faiz was the first victim of Pakistani state’s brutal terror mechanism of “kill and dump”.
The bodies kept falling and we, the Baloch activists, kept counting. In January 2011, within a span of just few months, the number of bullet-riddled bodies grew up to 70. The pile kept growing and I moved to London for further studies. Then a time came when we lost the count but the killers continued their job. 200… 300… 400… and it went on. When you live away from your motherland the love for it deepens. My day, like many other activists living in diaspora, starts with Twitter and Facebook with a prayer in mind that we don’t get news of another brutal murder. But they say nothing is on the oppressor’s side. Same is the case with us, as often our prayers go unanswered and the rest of the day is ruined. We get enraged at times and mostly cry our heart out. But the bodies keep falling and the bloodthirsty beasts pursue their quest by murdering at times eight or nine Baloch activists a day.
There is no single Baloch family who hasn’t been affected by this brutal “kill and dump” policy. Being a member of the BSO-Azad, I lost few very good friends in the last two years. Qamber Chakar, Qayyum Baloch, Zubair Sarparah, Sami Mengal, Asmatullah Sarparah and Sangat Sana were all members of our organisation and very good friends. They are not the only ones who were killed. In fact BSO-A has lost more than 100 very active members in the last two years. The cream of Baloch society is being targeted.
In the beginning, the killings were confined only to low-profile Baloch activists but it seems now they have ran out of stock. Now the targets are high-profiled popular Baloch leaders. Or may be because of a silent media and criminal judiciary the killers are now more brave in their acts. Jaleel Reki, Ghaffar Langove and recently Sangat Sana were all very famous Baloch leaders.
I first met Sangat Sana in Quetta when he was the vice chairman of the Baloch Students Organisation. Unlike his strict stance on Balochistan, Sangat was a very soft spoken and articulate man in his late twenties. We had a chat over a cup of tea with other BSO-A office-bearers. Baloch politics had seen sudden and very disheartening developments in those days with the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti and later on the unexpected demise of Nawabzada Balaach Khan Marri. Brahumdagh was in hiding whereas Hyrbiar Marri was facing grave political sanctions in Britain. Baloch youth were lacking a compelling leader to devise policies and lead them in time of such distress.
The BSO-A leadership took the initiative and decided to take the heavy burden of standing against tyranny on its own. Few students belonging to the lower-middle-class and some to very poor families stood like the mountain of Chiltan without even giving a second thought about the consequences. Zakir Majeed, Sangat Sana and Waja Basheer Zeb emerged as charismatic leaders and later on changed the very political set up and mentality of the Baloch nation. The organisation surfaced as the most powerful and adored political organisation in politics. The state forces never liked the organised and rebellious politics of Baloch youth, which was restraining them from functioning properly in looting and plundering Baloch resources. They retaliated with full force and the student organisation paid very heavily for the strict stance it had adopted.
The leadership of BSO came under the direct wrath of oppressive forces. Zakir Majeed, the senior vice chairman of the BSO-A, was abducted by officials of intelligence agencies near Mastung on June 8, 2009. It has been 981 days since Majeed went missing and bearing inhumane torture in illegal custody. There have also been four murder attempts on Waja Basheer Zeb, the chairman of the BSO-A.
Various attempts were made to abduct or kill Sangat Sana before they finally succeeded in abducting him on December 7, 2009. Sangat Sana belonged to a very rich and influential tribal family but he preferred activism to family business. His soft-spoken nature and strict ideology made him a very respected student leader among Baloch students. Everyone praised his leadership skills and Sangat preserved these skills even in the face of cruel torture of government forces.
An abducted Baloch activist, after being released from the government torture cells, narrated stories of how Sangat Sana bravely countered his investigation team and other torturers in a military cell. According to him: “We were being held in a military torture cell near Serena Hotel in Quetta. The conditions were very bad. We only got food two times a day and that too in very little quantity. Almost every day new activists were brought in there. Later, we realised that Sangat Sana is also in the custody cell. He always argued with military officers and would leave them speechless with his arguments. He tried to organise us and slowly changed the environment of torture cell with his bravery and skills. The agonising and dreadful environment now changed into a fearless and brave atmosphere but the torture and inhumane conditions never stopped. He would always quarrel with officers on the condition of food and later on with a few other activists he staged a hunger-strike. Though the condition of food didn’t improve but his stance nonetheless annoyed and made things difficult for the military officers. He was continuously threatened for his life.”
So next time when you are enjoying a lavish dinner in Serena Hotel or living in the presidential suites of the hotel for a work trip sponsored by your newspaper or on the invitation of the Pakistan Army, don’t forget that the owners of Baloch land are being subjected to inhumane torture only a few yards away.
The released Baloch activist told us this story a year ago but his account was confirmed with the pictures of inhumane torture on the body of Sangat Sana. His bullet-riddled body was found on February 13 from Murghaap Turbat. The cruel forces couldn’t break his determination so they tried to break his body. His body was tortured to an extent that shames humanity. There was not a single place on his body which had no scars of brutal torture. His chest was ripped off and he was shot 28 times on his chest and head. The bloodthirsty beasts couldn’t satisfy their thirst with killing the Baloch leader so they mutilated his body beyond recognition.
The question arises what is the point in mutilating the bodies and the answer rests in the mentality of the security forces. This is nothing but sheer terrorism to stop the Baloch nation from asking for their basic human rights. But there has been some misjudgment or miscalculation while making policies in Islamabad. With their terrorism they are doing nothing but boosting the morale of the Baloch nation and making them more determined that their future doesn’t lie in a state which abuses their mothers, disgraces their sisters and kills their brothers.