In Islamabad, tensions escalated at the Baloch protest camp outside the National Press Club following a controversial incident with the city’s police. The Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), organizing the protest against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan, accused the police of disrupting their seminar. The group said that the police switched off the sound system and attempted to confiscate the loudspeakers minutes before the scheduled seminar on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan.
Videos circulated by the BYC show a heated exchange between the protesters and the police. In these clips, Dr. Mahrang Baloch, the leading figure in the protest, confronts a police officer who allegedly attempted to remove the speaker system. She emphatically states, “By taking our speaker, you cannot silence us. You cannot hide the sighs and cries of these grieving mothers.” Further footage highlights a tense standoff, culminating in Dr. Mahrang and other female protesters successfully retrieving the speaker from police custody.
It is pertinent to mention that a similar incident unfolded a few days ago when a few unknown men raided the Baloch protest camp at 3:00 am, harassed the women and children in there, and took away the loudspeakers. The incident was captured on camera where the masked men can be seen hauling the speaker in a white Vigo and driving away.
The incident engendered condemnation and mockery of the Pakistani security establishment and came to be known as the “speakergate” scandal.
Amidst the confrontation, an officer accused the protesters of theatrics, which was met with sharp criticism from Barrister Ahsan J. Pirzada at the protest site. He questioned the officer’s empathy, pondering how the officer’s reaction might differ if his own family members were among the missing.
Sammi Deen Baloch, General Secretary of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), voiced her frustration on social media over the police’s intervention. “It’s bizarre that even our sound system is a problem for the police,” she remarked, sharing a friend’s observation: “This speaker isn’t Baloch; it merely speaks Balochi.”
This latest incident follows a recent occurrence where unidentified armed individuals in a Vigo vehicle harassed protesters and took away their speaker on Thursday night. This prompted the need for a replacement speaker system and led to the hashtag #SpeakerChor trending on social media platforms.