Author: Ali Jan Maqsood
“I will not make any other video,” says 5-year-old Mahroz Hameed when her elder sister asks her to record a short video for uploading on social media, where they urge the masses to participate in the online Twitter campaign for the safe release of Abdul Hameed Zehri, the father of Mahroz, who was ‘forcibly disappeared’ from his home in Karachi 29 months ago. “Father will not come,” she concludes. However, with a fallen facial expression, she records her words, “Police uncles have taken my father from home. I request them to release my father. I want his presence because everyone in school asks me about my father, but I have no answer.” Neither her mother nor her sister could assure her that this short video was enough to get her father released from the dungeons. She goes back to her bed and sleeps hopelessly.
A patient of diabetes, Abdul Hameed Zehri was allegedly disappeared from his home in Karachi in a raid by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) at around 3 in the night. With 8 to 10 CTD officials, says Saeeda Hameed, the daughter of Hameed Zehri, they entered their home under the excuse of checking but eventually took away her father. “They said they would leave him downstairs after necessary interrogation,” Saeeda says, but he did not return.
But that was the point where they forcibly took him. And then neither a First Information Report was lodged by the CTD against Zehri, nor was he ever produced in a court of law. In the words of the United Nations, Abdul Hameed has been the victim of enforced disappearance on the night of April 10, 2021. Since then, his entire family has knocked on every legal door but received a negative response from the law enforcement agencies and the courts. They have even turned to the Joint Investigation Teams (a team set by the superior court for hearing the cases of missing persons) but faced disappointments.
Against the unsatisfactory response from the authorities, Zehri’s family has marched on roads, arranged protesting rallies, participated in campaigns, and spent their Eids on roads and in press clubs asking for Zehri’s release. But nothing could help them. In fact, they have approached various journalists and other legal practitioners for helping them recover Zehri, but all in vain.
On September 10, when Saeeda approached the journalists to give coverage to their demand for the safe release of her father by highlighting the Twitter Campaign on September 12, a mainstream journalist set himself aside, while another called it “a drama of the Baloch.” When rejecting the favor to give coverage, who has given a journalist, whose job is to see everything neutrally from all angles, to judge and give an opinion based on one side of the situation? Why would thousands of Baloch missing persons’ families act unnecessarily by sitting for days and months on roads with their minor children? Who would not like to spend a tension-free life? What still makes Baloch people keep on struggling on roads and in press clubs when the consequence of that is to face state oppression?
Calling the Baloch missing persons issue a drama has been the long-standing state institutions’ narrative to justify the enforced disappearances of the Baloch. One may ask any single Baloch living anywhere in Balochistan, or in any other Baloch-majority area, they will give you every bit of information about what state institutions’ barbarism they face routinely. Not a single home in Balochistan is spared from raids, while you would find at least one missing person from every home in Balochistan. Some get released luckily – after days, months, and years – while thousands remain detained for years without any trace.
On September 12, Saeeda and the little Mahroz asked the entire people to become their voices in this harsh time. They have tried everything they could but lost every hope other than the support they demand from their own masses. Justice shall prevail, and longing grievances may end for Zehri’s family and all the other Baloch families who have been witnessing the worst days of the forcible detention of their loved ones.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Balochistan Post or any of its editors.