Baloch protesters in Karachi, including women and children, were dragged into vans by Sindh police (June 13). They were peacefully protesting for the safe recovery of two missing Baloch students, Doda Baloch and Gamshad Baloch, who were allegedly whisked away by security agencies from their hostel room in Karachi’s Mastan Chowrangi area on June 7 and released today early in the morning. The police had approximately arrested 28 protesters (some claim they were 60) including Sammi Deen Baloch, Aamna Baloch and other Baloch women, showed the viral videos on social media. The sources from Karachi confirmed that the Sindh police had given a document to the protesters that they would be released only if they signed the document that they would never protest again in Karachi. One wonders if with such attitudes, the state institutions are exempting Baloch from their constitutional rights.
Article 16 of the Constitution of Pakistan states: “Every citizen shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order.” Will Inspector General Sindh elaborate if such a restriction was imposed by law during the protest? Or will the relevant authorities involved in the baton-charge be pleased to illustrate if the pens and words of the Baloch protesters – who are mostly students – eyed as arms and abuses for State?
Coming to Article 19 of the constitution, it reads: “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or in the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offense.”
In contrary to the above-quoted Article of the Constitution, the baton-charge of Sindh police on children and women itself is against the glory of Islam and decency or morality. In civilised world, children and women are respected. Same is in the Baloch code of ethics and morality. But beating women, dragging them in front of whole people, throwing their scarfs away and hurling them behind the bars show that the Sindh police has crossed all the limits of the morality. In another point, Article 19 stressed that every citizen has the right to speech and expression, but when Baloch speak or express themselves, they are labelled as “terrorists” and “state-enemies”. One wonders, is it the Baloch going against the constitution or the state institutions themselves? Or maybe, the words “every citizen” are not for the Baloch masses – I re-quote, maybe.
Security of person (Article 9) and Right to fair trial (Article 10A) are two other examples of breach of constitution by the state actors. On one side, the Baloch masses, including students, are openly being disappeared from educational institutions which is a clear-cut violation of Article 9; on the other hand, despite the fact that the state’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) endorses several disappearances – which were sometimes secured in form of videos and testimony from the released persons that they were with CTD – of the Baloch, but they never bother to produce them before the courts, which is equal to not giving the right to exercise Article 10A. Amidst such constitutional crises, what remains for the Baloch masses to adopt?