Reports emerged from the port city of Balochistan (Gwadar) on Saturday (April 29) where a minor boy (11) was allegedly assaulted by an army personnel when he was playing with other kids of his age on sea in the Ghoria area of the city. The news broke out when the child’s father was found in sharing a video message with his child and other kids alleging ‘an army officer’ to have tried to ‘sexually harass’ his 11-year old son. He was seen briefing the details to another person in civil dress and shouting out loudly by calling it ‘against the human and Baloch code of ethics’. The family, at the meantime, blocked CPEC route from Ghoria and announced of sitting on the route until the nominated officer was not arrested.
After a while, a video message was shared by the boy’s mother urging authorities to take immediate action against the nominated culprit. “It is not only my issue, but the same can happen with the other children of the area,” she said, asking people to stand against the inhumane acts no matter who were the opposite parties. She warned they would not leave the CPEC route and close the port by next day if their issue was not fixed overnight.
The Haq Do Tehreek representatives, including Hafeez Kiazai and Masi Zainab, joined the protesting sit-in. After their negotiations at midnight with the army colonel, they postponed their protesting sit-in saying they were ensured by the authorities for immediate actions after the nominated culprit was highlighted the next morning, which is yet in the process as the culprit has not been highlighted yet for court martial.
In a combined press conference with the victim family, Hafeez Kiazai of HDT said that army colonel ensured of court trialing the culprit and punishing him accordingly once guilt is proved against him. He further clarified that the boy was not raped, but physically assaulted and the case against the officer was of physical assault, not rape. “If we are not rendered justice, we will announce our next step after evaluating the situations and discussions with the family,” he said.
The rape culture is taking roots in Baloch society for last few years in particular. Only in the last month, a similar case was reported in Khuzdar district of the province where a minor boy was allegedly harassed physically by two boys of the same Madressah. The case was later, after a lot of campaigning and pressures, was registered to the police station. Eventually, the alleged boys were arrested in the next half. But the normal scene in Balochistan is, many cases are not reported, while for several other cases police ask to veil the case and they do not lodge the FIR. Before the trend of not registering FIRs was for only enforced disappearances, but now cases as rape are facing the same fate.
However, the Ghoria incident is against an LEA personnel himself. Basically, the family has to face two dilemmas in such a case: one, the case will not go reported (which the HDT representative ensured will go registered after negotiations with Army Colonel after great social media hype). Two, if the case is registered, whether action will be taken or not. Following the history, such cases have rarely been investigated to conclusion.
Exactly two years ago in the month of April, a minor boy was ‘raped’ in Hoshap area of district Kech by a FC personnel, against which the locals blocked the main CPEC route from Hoshap. Because the case was against a LEA personnel, it was not being reported in the concerned stations. After consecutive pressures and protests in Turbat, Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and Islamabad, the case was registered and the FC personnel was sent to prison. However, gradually, the case was made forgotten.
In the Ghoria incident, because the nominated culprit is an army officer, says Kiazai, the colonel told FIR could not be registered against such an officer unless the case is of murder. “But he ensured investigation was going on and soon the culprit would be court martialed as per army rules,” Kiazai told to local journalists at Gwadar press club.
But the victims in Ghoria incident fear a similar end to this case. Because this newly-introduced culture is largely coming from people who are not from Balochistan. They challenge it before it becomes a norm in times to come.