Missing Baloch woman produced in court; lawyer says she was tortured

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Noor Jahan Baloch was picked up by the Pakistani security forces from her hometown of Hoshap, district Kech, in the middle of the night. She was kept in custody for over a day and then produced before the Anti-Terrorism Court on Wednesday to be prosecuted. The Pakistani forces claim that she is a member of the Balochi Liberation Army’s Majeed Brigade and say that she had allegedly donned a suicide vest she was about to carry out an attack on Chinese engineers along the CPEC road when she was arrested. Noor Jahan Baloch had denied these allegations and her lawyer has told the court that she was tortured during custody. 

Noor Jahan Baloch was picked up in the middle of the night by the Pakistani forces dressed in civilian clothes and moved to an unknown location. The news of her “enforced disappearance” spread like wildfire on social media – Baloch nationalists, human rights groups, and political and social workers ran social media campaigns for her safe recovery and vehemently criticized the Pakistani state for what they call the “unprovoked act of aggression against Baloch women.”

The Counter-Terrorism Department of Pakistan confirmed the arrest of Noor Jahan Baloch and filed an FIR against her and another man named Fazal s/o Ali Muhammad where they claimed that she was about to carry out an attack targeting Chinese nationals when she was arrested. In the FIR, the Pakistani forces claim that they had recovered a large cache of explosives from her which were being used to attack the Chinese. However, her family members have denied these allegations. In a video message, her husband, who is in the UAE, says that we are poor and we do not have any connection with the anti-state armed organizations. 

The Pakistani forces brought Noor Jahan Baloch and Fazal, who they say is her accomplice, to the court on Wednesday. The Pakistani forces claimed that at the time of the arrest, they had recovered a suicide vest, at least 8.7 kilograms of explosives and a large cache of weapons intended to be used in “subversive activities.” The CTD said that she was trying to attack the Chinese engineers along the CPEC road when she was arrested and her plan was “foiled.” The CTD also claimed that she is a member of BLA’s Majeed Brigade. 

Noor Jahan Baloch denied the allegations levelled against her in court. Her lawyer, Advocate Nazim Ud Din, claimed that she was tortured during custody by the Pakistani forces. Noor Jahan and her counsellor denied the wild allegations that she was sexually harassed by the forces. 

The anti-terrorism court directed the CTD to keep Noor Jahan Baloch in custody but also make sure that she has access to her family members and her counsellor. The proceeding was adjourned for another two days. 

The Balochistan Post contacted the city administration on Wednesday’s events, but they did not respond. 

Noor Jahan’s “enforced disappearance” engendered a massive public outcry on social media. The Baloch National Movement, a pro-independence political party, held an emergency Space on Twitter to discuss the arrest-cum-abduction of Noor Jahan Baloch. BNM said that “enforced disappearances” in Balochistan are indiscriminate – they target everyone, regardless of whether they have any connection with the Baloch armed groups or not. BNM said that Noor Jahan Baloch was picked up on false charges and the CTD is now trying to portray her as a suicide attacker. The forces had also picked up the fourteen-year-old Shazia d/o Allah Dad and no one has a clue what is her crime, BNM said.

Shutter down strike in Turbat fro Noor Jahan

The Baloch Yakjehti Committee said that this is not the first time Baloch women have been targeted by the Pakistani forces. Before this, Baloch women have been picked up in Awaran, Makran, Pangoor, Turbat and various other areas of Balochistan. 

Baloch Student Organization Azad (BSO-Azad) said that this is not the first time the Pakistani state has carried out such gruesome human rights violations in Balochistan. The group said that the Pakistani forces have opened indiscriminate fire on innocent protestors and forcibly disappeared Baloch students. BSO-Azad said that Pakistan is now using violence to further its “occupation” of Balochistan and the “exploitation” of its resources. The group said that violence at the hands of Pakistan’s forces in Balochistan has increased by leaps and bounds in the past few weeks – the situation is alarming.

Protests and demonstrations were also organized in different areas against the “enforced disappearance” of Noor Jahan Baloch. In Hoshap the highway leading to Quetta and other areas of Makran was blocked for the third consecutive day. A shutter down protest was also observed as markets, shops, government offices and other public places were closed. The protests were called by the Haq Do Movement, members of the Turbat Civil Society and the traders’ unions. Public transport owners and drivers voluntarily participated in the protest. 

Protestors demanded the safe release of Noor Jahan Baloch and said that the charges levelled up against her are baseless.

SourceTBP

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