Iranian forces’ indiscriminate shooting of more than 37 Baloch traders has sparked protests and condemnation in eastern and western Balochistan.
According to reports, the murder of 37 Baloch oil traders by Iranian forces at the border, on Sunday has fuelled protests in Sistan and Balochistan, [Iranian administrated Balochistan]. The incident occurred at the border near Panjgur district of eastern Balochistan. Numerous traders were also wounded.
The brutal act of the Iranian forces has also sparked protests, anger along with condemnations on both sides— Iranian and Pakistani administrated Balochistan. Protestors blocked roads in many cities, burnt down the Iranian forces’ vehicles. The protestors also stormed the Governor’s office in Sarawan city.
Many other government offices were also destroyed. At least three protestors were shot killed by the security personnel. Various sources put the number of deaths at around 15 to 20 and some other independent sources say 35-37. In a video made during the protests, a man says “they have killed 37 innocent people and injured several others, God will destroy them!”
According to initial reports received on Sunday, the number of dead on the spot were 10 but several other injured also died later. Whereas, according to latest reports, a few more wounded died including some of the protestors killed on Monday, rises the death toll to 37.
A political party, Baloch National Movement (BNM) has strongly condemned the act saying that the firing on innocent people by border forces is a clear barbarism and a serious violation of the rights of the people divided between borders, the elements involved must be punished.
“Not only the economic needs but also the relations of Baloch people, the lands and other matters on both sides of the border are being severely affected by the strict measures of border forces,” BNM spokesperson said.
The head of Darul Uloom and an Imam of Ahl-e-Sunnat Sistan and Baluchistan Maulana Abdul Hameed condemned the killing of oil traders by Iranian forces on the Gold Smud’s Line and said that such measures were a total violation of the law.
“Unfortunately, the people of Sistan-Baluchistan are involved in the oil business due to unemployment. This business is not a crime, nor does it fall into the category of smuggling. Thousands of families are doing this business to run their homes. If the forces have to take action, they should take action against the drug lords,” he added.
A prominent student organisation BSO-Azad has condemned the killing of Baloch people and termed it as a national tragedy.
Thousands of Baloch traders earn their livelihood by transporting oil from Iran via the “Iran-Pakistan” border. With widespread unemployment, economic activities being next to nothing, lack of industries and little development in the private sector, hundreds of well-educated Baloch youth resort to the risky oil trade to earn their bread and butter. The Baloch oil-traders are frequently harassed both by the Pakistani as well as the Iranian border security forces. They are reportedly forced to pay stupendous fines – sometimes almost 20% of their earnings – to the Pakistani security forces to get a passageway through the border.