Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Turbat is the second largest city of Balochistan. Like its name, it is turning into a literal Turbat( a grave). Although this city has witnessed bloodshed since the turn of the millennium but the recent incidents of brutal murders of Baloch women in the district follow an alarming trend.
On the 26th of May, this year, a Baloch woman named Malik Naz was killed in Turbat city during a robbery at her house. The culprits were caught by neighbours. They were identified as members of Sameer Sabzal’s death squad. Death Squads are reportedly armed groups who operate against insurgents in Balochistan and in return, they are granted complete impunity from Pakistani military. What happened to the robbers-cum-murderers? How far the trial has reached? No one knows exactly, people only know that the murderers are not convicted yet.
Similarly, half a month later, another Baloch woman named Kulsoom Baloch was stabbed to death in Dazin town of Turbat by another group of robbers-cum-murderers during an apparent attempt of robbery. This time the culprits managed to flee but fingers were still pointed at the state-sponsored death squads and many Baloch activists called this murder an act to threaten insurgents that their families are not safe at home.
In August, Hayat Baloch, a 25-year-old student was killed by Pakistani paramilitary personnel in Aapsar town of Turbat. After much hue and cry, the personnel was arrested and put behind the bars. However, similar to the murderers of Malik Naz Baloch, the trial of the murderer is being delayed with different tactics. In a tweet, Dawn news journalists, Mubashir Zaidi wrote that the personnel is being kept in isolation after contracting COVID-19 and trial will begin only after his reports are negative.
The recent victim of the people with powerful backers is Shaheena Shaheen, a female journalist and an artist from Turbat city. She was killed by her husband Mehrab Gichki on the 5th of September but the murderer despite being identified is still at large. The sister of the slain journalist, Zara Shaheen, in a tweet said that Mehrab Gichki cannot be arrested. He is being protected by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies because he was working as a mole for them. They are returning the favour now.
The family and civil society members tried to carry out a protest rally in Turbat city on 17th of September, however, in a video uploaded by Zara Shaheen on her twitter account, she has filmed police officers and she can be heard accusing the police of misbehaving and stopping the rally on the orders of Pakistani agencies.
Despite the pressure built for investigating and arresting Shaheena’s murder by UN Human Rights high commissioner and by female media practitioners in Pakistan through a demand letter signed by 58 female journalists and three supporting bodies, the murderer is still at large, and according to the family, police do not look interested in arresting him at all.
The recent murders in Turbat were all carried out either directly by Government forces or by people who are backed by them. Anybody with little information about affairs in Balochistan will know that justice in such cases seems far away from being served.