Crackdown on Baloch students continues despite frequent protests

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The Pakistani security forces are reportedly cracking down on Baloch students in Balochistan and different cities across Pakistan. Students and rights activists have held frequent protests against this practice, but they say that their pleas fell on deaf ears. Rights groups have also organized social media campaigns, demonstrations and peace walks for the safe recovery of the Baloch students, but to no avail. Student leaders claim that the Baloch students are being racially profiled and harassed in universities all across Pakistan.

In the Arid Agricultural University Rawalpindi, Baloch students held a protest for the safe recovery of their fellow student Feroz Baloch. In the scorching summer heat, the students carried out a peace walk through the university campaign, carrying portraits of Feroz Baloch and placards bearing slogans against racial profiling. The peace walk culminated in a sit-in protest in front of the university administration building where the students sat and demanded the safe release of Feroz Baloch. One student also collapsed due to the sweltering heat.

The university administration did not respond to the pleas of the Baloch students – if anything, they did the opposite. In videos recorded and shared by Baloch students at the Arid University, one varsity guard can be seen ripping off the flyers that were put on the walls for the awareness of students and the university administration. One student wrote: “Thank you! administration of arid agriculture university rawalpindi for your behavior. We demand support! and in return you harrased us!”

The students also said that instead of heeding their demands, the university administration called the police to silence them. The students, however, are determined that they will not rest until their fellow student has been released.

“Enforced disappearances” of Baloch students throughout Pakistan and Balochistan have seen an alarming spike in the past few weeks. Gazzain Baloch, an MPhil scholar at the University of Punjab, was allegedly picked up by the Pakistani forces on May 12 from Quetta. He was kept in custody for a few days and then released.

On Wednesday night, Gazzain Baloch and his cousin Meer Ahmed, a government servant, were picked up from a local restaurant in Quetta, allegedly by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. In videos recorded and shared by their friends on social media, a group of men dressed in civilian clothes can be seen manhandling the duo in a white Vigo and driving away. Gazzain and his cousin were released a few hours later, but their “abduction” raised a lot of questions as to why an MPhil student was picked up twice in the same week?


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