Hundreds of people took to the streets on Sunday in Quetta and Karachi against the ‘extrajudicial’ killing of Baloch student Hayat Baloch.
According to the details, campaign groups organised twin demonstrations in Quetta and Karachi where hundreds of people took to the streets to express solidarity with Hayat Baloch, who was killed in Turbat on 13 August in broad daylight by the Frontier Corps, a Pakistani paramilitary force. The protestors carried placards, posters and portraits, demanding justice for Hayat.
In Quetta, the demonstration was held in front of the Quetta Press Club where the families of the missing persons, Baloch and Pashtun students and several members of political parties participated. Several people addressed the demonstration, saying that Hayat Baloch’s murder is the testimony of the “terrorism” of the state. They said the state has compelled the youth to recourse to resistance.
The speakers said the state is leaving no stone unturned to extinguish the enlightened minds of Balochistan. The ‘extrajudicial killings’ of the Baloch has been accelerating for some time now. The speakers further said that Baloch have lost all hope from the state, which has opted for their ‘ethnic cleansing.’
In Karachi, scores of people marched on the streets and held a demonstration in front of the Karachi Press Club. The participants dubbed Hayat’s murder as ‘the abject violation of human rights’ in Balochistan.
Hayat Baloch was 25-year-old final-year BSc (Physiology) student in Karachi University and a resident Turbat. In the morning of 13 August, he was murdered in broad daylight by personnel of Pakistani security forces. According to the eyewitnesses, Hayat was working in a date orchard when a bomb went off on the nearby road – the Pakistani military convoy was attacked. The panicked forces ran to the orchard, saw Hayat and started beating him. They reportedly tied his limbs, yanked his mother’s shawl, blindfolded him with it and started beating him. Despite his father’s pleas that Hayat was innocent, the forces didn’t spare him. They dragged him to the nearby road and shot him eight to ten times, killing him on the spot before his family and many other witnesses.
Hayat Baloch’s murder triggered a massive uproar in Balochistan. Student organizations, political parties, journalists, human rights activists and the general public condemned the incident and demanded justice for Hayat. Baloch Yakjehti Committee condemned the incident and appealed to the Pakistani authorities to play their part in delivering justice to Hayat Baloch.
Baloch Republican Party condemned Hayat Baloch’s murder in a media statement and said that the ‘state atrocities and oppression’ have gained momentum in Balochistan. He said that Pakistani forces are systematically and selectively eliminating the educated youth of Balochistan. National Party said that the relevant authorities must initiate a judicial inquiry in the matter and arrest the culprit of the incident. Awami National Party also demanded the immediate arrest and punishment of the culprit.
Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, said in a tweet that he is deeply saddened by the news of Hayat Baloch’s death. He said that the FC soldier has not shed the blood of a single youth, but the blood of the entire Pakistan. Nida Kirmani, a researcher on gender and urban marginality, urged the Pakistani Independence Day celebrators to “take a break from your firecrackers and aerial firings, from your messages of hope and praise for our leaders and pray for #HayatBaloch, a Karachi University student while working with his father in their garden in Turbat.”
Abbas Nasir, the former editor of Dawn, wrote in an Op-Ed that Hayat Baloch’s murder “was a tragedy waiting to happen because of the culture of impunity that law-enforcement officials seem to enjoy.” He wrote that that the law-enforcement agencies need to be reined in. “Brutality can rarely be the route to winning lasting peace”, he wrote.