Author: Miran Mazar (TBP Editor)
On the quiet evening of 15th November in Karachi, young Mahrang’s dad was helping her finish school work. Next day was a normal Thursday at school for Mahrang but a favorite one. Every alternative Thursday they would have a PE session in school and she loved the games played during these sessions.
She was also excited about her friend Rubina’s birthday on Friday, she was yet to buy a gift though. Her dad had promised to get it after school on Thursday. It was hard for Mahrang to make friends in the beginning when they had just migrated from restive district Awaran in Balochistan to Karachi. However, with time she managed to make few friends.
Life was finally peaceful, kind of. However, this was all about to change. Mahrang was neither going to the PE session the next day nor getting a gift for Rubina.
Mahrang’s dad Naseer had few guests that day. One of them, Ezzat, was making dinner for everybody that evening, while Rafeeq and Hassam were watching a movie.
It was a full of life evening, when around 9pm numerous armed persons barged into their home and changed Mahrang’s life hollow, possibly for perpetuity. The armed men started beating her father and his friends in front of her. They then blindfolded all four to be taken away.
Mahrang clung to his father’s legs in a failed bid to stop the armed men. However, she too was beaten up. She cried. She would do that for many coming days, months or may be years.
This whole episode of helplessness was witnessed by Mahrang and her mum Zubeda Baloch.
Mahrang is not the only one, there are are scores of other children, wives, sisters and mothers bearing the agony resulting from the disappearance of their loved ones.
Mahrang’s dad is an office bearer of largest but most victimised student organisation of Balochistan, BSO-Azad. Two others out of four abducted that evening are also senior leaders of BSO-Azad, whereas, another is a leader of Baloch National Movement.
They include the central Secretary General of BSO-Azad, Sanaullah Baloch alias Ezzat Baloch, and two Central Committe members, Hassam Baloch alias Nodan Baloch and Mahrang’s dad Naseer Ahmed alias Cheraag Baloch. Whereas, Rafeeq Baloch alias Kambar Baloch is a member of Baloch National Movement (BNM).
Due to its staunch support for liberation of Balochistan, BSO-Azad has been dealt brutally by Pakistani forces. Almost majority of top brass of the organisation has either been killed or are missing for years. The organisation, therefore, has resorted to use nom de guerres for safety.
Today marks third month of their disappearance. Three months of agony and despair for Mahrang, her mother and loved ones of all four missing friends.
Their organisation, BSO-Azad, said in a statement released yesterday that despite passage of three months since the leaders were forcibly disappeared, neither they have been resurfaced nor any information has been given by the state authorities.
Though, Pakistani state forces had admitted in November that they have picked four persons from Patel Paara during, what they termed, “routine house to house search operation”. They also confirmed that no illegal substances have been recovered during the raid, however, the arrests were made due to the persons looking suspicious.
Since then the Baloch activists have neither been produced before the courts nor any charges have been filed against them.
The family members of abductees had tried to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) before the Police, a legal process in Pakistan, however, their request was rejected by Police.
BSO-Azad at the time of abduction had said that the students were particularly targeted for their affiliation with the organisation. “This is continuity of abduction of BSO-Azad leaders like Zahid Kurd, Shabbir Baloch and Zakir Majeed,” the organisation said in a press statement.
“We are a peaceful political organisation that campaigns for student as well as Baloch rights. However, negating Pakistani state’s stance attracts inhumane behavior. BSO-Azad is victim of such behavior at the hands of Pakistani state forces.” Canada based BSO-Azad Chairperson, Karima Baloch, who also appeared on BBC’s list of inspirational and influential women for 2016, told TBP in November.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had slammed the abduction of student leaders and it had demanded that these student activists and human rights defenders should be accorded due process if they were suspected of any crime, or be immediately released by the security forces that have detained them.
BSO-Azad, however, questions the role of Human Rights Organisation and terms it unsatisfactory. In the statement released yesterday, the organisation said: “All evidences regarding the arrest-cum-abduction of the political activists and students have been provided and the eyewitnesses have recorded their statements. Despite all these steps taken, the human rights organisations did not take any satisfactory measures for the recovery of our organization’s central leaders, which is extremely regrettable.”
The statement further read: “It is necessary for the human rights organisations to pressurize the state for the recovery of BSO-Azad’s central secretary general, central committee members and the member of BNM, because we have genuine concerns about their lives.”
“Before this incident, state’s armed organisations have forcibly disappeared hundreds of activist of our organization, and until today none of them have returned safe and sound, but dozens of mutilated bodies of the abductees have been recovered,” BSO-Azad statement added.
BSO-Azad has continuously campaigned for the recovery of their members since their disappearance and so has Mahrang and her mum. Instead of attending the classes and PE sessions she loved in school, she is participating in protests and sitting on footpaths in front of press clubs with her mother.
They both are exhausted.
Their well-wishers just pray that this Mahrang doesn’t share the fate of the other Mahrang. The Mahrang whose dad Ghaffar Langove returned from gallows lifeless. That Mahrang’s dad is no more.