Baloch women and children, counted among the Baloch elders and youth, were baton-charged by Islamabad Police in the night of December 20-21. Around 300 peaceful Baloch protesters, including women, children and journalists, were arrested by the police. Balochistan burned the very next day as protests emerged across Balochistan demanding the immediate release of the peaceful protesters. Islamabad High Court also took notice on plea by lawyers, who ordered Inspector General Islamabad to appear before the court on December 21 at 4 in the afternoon to explain. He called the protesters ‘violent’ and said women and children were released. However, all the women and children were kept the whole day in custody while buses were arranged to deport them to Quetta. Balochistan, on the other hand, against all the brutal state policies, called for protests and shutter down strike across the region, while highways to be closed. Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) is leading the long march from Turbat to Islamabad.
Since November 23, Balochistan is going through tensed situations when Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) claimed to have killed four Baloch militants in a clash which was rejected by the people of Balochistan – including the family members of the four killed Baloch youth – saying that they were abducted from their homes by forces. Against the “fake encounter”, the families camped at Shaheed Fida Ahmed chowk in Turbat from November 23 to December 6 after which the protesters called for a long march to Islamabad against enforced disappearances and fake encounters in Balochistan. They received warm welcomes across the Baloch areas including Hirronk, Hoshap, Panjgoor, Naal, Greshag, Khuzdar, Surab, Kalat, Mastung, Quetta, Kohlu, Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Ismail Khan. All the way through, the protesters also campaigned against enforced disappearances and fake encounters. They also set registration camps where they registered cases of disappeared Baloch. In simple words, the incident converted into a movement mobilizing the world to take urgent notice of gross human rights violations in Balochistan.
On their way, the peaceful protesters were harassed by the police and local militia – locally known as death squads – but they could not prevent the long march from happening. First Information Reports (FIRs), which are never reported in any case of abduction of a Baloch by forces, kept getting lodged in every city’s police station. Phone calls kept coming restraining journalists and protesters to cover and join the marchers, but this could not help ‘them’ out either. They used barracks to stop the marchers from movement, but could not succeed. And then, they used baton-charge on children, women, elders and students, put them behind bars on charges of ‘terrorism’ and ‘rhetoric’ but could not break the courage of the marchers. Now, when very hapless, they decided to deport them to Quetta to stop the movement against enforced disappearances and fake encounters. Will they be successful? Doesn’t seem so.
As the Baloch women and children were forcefully dragged into the buses to get deported to Quetta, several activists and journalists reacted on the violent approach of the Law Enforcement Agencies. M. Jibran Nasir, lawyer and activist, tweeted, “Islamabad should remember that Baloch mothers and sisters came to them but you arrested them, used baton-charge, dragged and pushed them away violently into buses. When they respond in violence, you label them terrorists, and then you complain why ‘angry Baloch’ do not negotiate.”