It took Razzak Baloch’s family 24 hours to identify him through old marks on limbs because his face was mutilated beyond recognition
Paying back in their own coin. Really? — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
After the recent attack on a train near Machh, Bolan, in which only the locomotive and the railway police compartments were targeted, Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique, very bravely, said, “Militants should surrender otherwise the government will pay them (militants) in their own coin… we would respond with 10 rockets in response to one fired by the militants.” The fact is that even when no rockets have been fired the security forces have fired countless rockets of wanton brutality against the Baloch who had had no option except to resist the unwarranted brutality. How many rockets had the Baloch fired in March 1948 to be forcibly annexed or in October 1958 for Kalat to be attacked or in 1973 for the elected Ataullah Mengal government to be dismissed and a terrible military operation conducted or for the present ‘dirty war’ claiming thousands of victims to be unleashed with the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and Balaach Marri? There is an uninterrupted history of unprovoked aggression against the Baloch and it intensifies every day.
Intensification of the ‘dirty war’ has recently seen a spate of killings and abductions by the Frontier Corps (FC) and intelligence agencies; even the otherwise hibernating Dr Malik Baloch in a BBC Urdu interview admitted an inordinate rise in killings of the missing persons. On August 10, six previously abducted Mazarani Marris were killed in a staged encounter in Pir Ghaib, Bolan, and 10 were shown as taken into custody. After the train attack five more abducted Marris were killed similarly near Kumbari Bridge, Bolan. Eight others were similarly killed in the past few days. Soon after Eid the Quetta’s New Kahan Marri settlement where 1992’s Baloch refugee returnees from Afghanistan live was raided and 54 persons taken into custody; 44 were later released. Being a Baloch is a crime enough to be picked up by the FC and intelligence agencies. The abductions and killings of the Baloch continue unabated; apparently neither civil society nor the international bodies supposed to uphold human rights notice these crimes against humanity in Balochistan.
Karachi, which was Balochistan until the Talpur rulers took it in 1795, has assumed importance for the Baloch for all the wrong reasons. It has become the dumping ground of the bodies of the Baloch against whom security and intelligence agencies are conducting a vicious ‘dirty war’. On August 20 the bodies of journalist Haji Abdul Razzaq Baloch, sub-editor Tawar, an outspoken Balochi newspaper, who had gone missing on March 24, 2013, and Pathan Bakhsh Bugti were found in Surjani Town. It took Razzak Baloch’s family 24 hours to identify him through old marks on limbs because his face was mutilated beyond recognition. Along with bearing the pain of their loved ones being killed, relatives have to suffer such horrifying ordeals. The bodies of two missing Baloch youngsters Muhammad Ramzan and Abdul Ghafoor, picked up by security personnel in front of witnesses in Turbat last week while returning from Balochistan National Movement’s Imdad Baloch’s funeral, were also discovered. All four bodies found had chits of paper indentifying them.
Abdul Qadeer Baloch, the founder Vice Chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), whose son Jalil Reki was abducted in February 2009, and when found in November 2011, apart from severe torture, had three bullets in his heart. On the discovery of the bodies of these four abducted Baloch he said, “Some 25 Baloch picked up by intelligence agencies in Balochistan and some other parts of the country were found dead in Karachi.” He added, “I don’t see things getting better even after the recent change at the Centre and in Balochistan. Rather, I should say the situation is changing for the worse.” The regularity with which bodies are turning up in Karachi shows the freedom that the abductors enjoy for committing crimes against humanity.
Although denials come thick and fast about the involvement of the security and intelligence agencies in these crimes against humanity from the rulers and their mouthpieces in Balochistan but facts expose their brazen lies. Even the Supreme Court (SC) recently hearing the Balochistan unrest case had to say that the court’s orders for recovery of missing persons were being flouted whereas there was substantial evidence against the FC personnel. This substantial evidence of crimes against humanity has long been with the SC but it is loathe to move against the perpetrators. This evidence against the intelligence agencies and security forces has been meaningless for those who have suffered depredations and now one can assume that the thousands of past and present victims and those who will fall prey to these predatory forces in future will never get justice. This simply encourages the perpetrators to commit atrocities brazenly against all those who refuse to accept tyranny and exploitation of their resources.
Though the establishment claims normality prevails in Balochistan, there are many state apparatchiks who disbelieve these bogus assurances. A news report said that the government suspended Commandant Police Academy, Sihala DIG Khalid Mehmood, the RPO Faisalabad Abdul Razzaq Cheema and three Superintendent Police-rank officers for refusing to serve in Balochistan. This proves that the Baloch resistance to the injustices is effective and the groundswell for rights is pervasive enough to deter people from serving there.
The sufferings of the dirty war victims by and large go unnoticed because the state narrative of the Baloch working for the enemies dominates and, consequently, these third degree crimes against humanity retributions meted out to them are largely considered as acceptable and no voice is raised against them. Unfortunately, this indifference and apathy is compounded by threats and intimidation for those highlighting the atrocities and plight of the missing to forego protests. On the night of August 15, the hunger strike of the VBMP camp for the recovery of missing persons, now 1,250 days old, outside the Quetta Press Club, was set on fire by unidentified people. Before that Vice Chairman of VBMP Mama Abdul Qadeer and others received threats of dire consequences if the protest camp was not dismantled. Soon after his induction Dr Malik had visited the protest camp, asking them to end the protest. He was unequivocally told that it would continue until the last missing person is back home. Persisting against such overwhelming odds makes Nasrullah Baloch the Chairman of VBMP, Mama Qadeer, Farzana Majeed and all the other relatives of missing persons who have indomitably persevered with protests against overwhelming odds truly heroic people and the Baloch nation would always be thankful to them for their selfless heroism.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at [email protected]