By Malik Siraj Akbar
The Frontier Corps (FC) injured several political activists and one journalist in Turbat district on Friday in a clash in front of headquarters of Mekran Scouts in a sit-in that demanded the release of a freshly arrested Baloch writer and his son in Thump area.
According to the details, hundreds of Baloch women hailing from four towns of Turbat staged a sit-in in front of the district headquarter of the Mekran Scouts, a wing of the Frontier Corps (FC), to condemn the raid and subsequent arrest of a prominent Balochi language writer Ali Jan Quomi and his son Mujahid Quomi.
The raid had taken place in Thump area at Sehri times after the killing of two personnel of the Frontier Corps in an attack by the activists of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA) in the same area. The attack on the FC team had also killed one of the attackers, Mir Jan Meeral, who was identified as a renowned Balochi language poet.
Karima Baloch, who led the rally, told this writer that the Baloch women had taken out a peaceful demonstration in front of the FC headquarters in Turbat to condemn the raid on the house of Quomi who had been shifted to an unknown location along with his young son.
Over the years, Karima Baloch has emerged as the Leila Khaled of Balochistan. On June 3, 2009, an anti terrorist court sentenced her for three years and imposed a penalty of 150 thousand Pakistani rupees under section 123,124 of Pakistan’s law. She rose as a steadfast face of resistance in the Baloch movement after actively campaigning for the release of all missing persons in Balochistan along with the female leaders of Baloch Women’s Panel. In fact, the Baloch Women’s Panel comprises of women from Balochistan whose relatives went “missing’’ during the military regime of Pervez Musharraf. They are still striving to get their beloved relatives resurfaced.
Restrictions and punishments have not deterred the spirit of Karima Banok as she mobilized the women of Thump to come on the streets to protest the arrest of a Balochi language writer and his son.
I must confess that Mand is the land of brave Baloch daughters. Its daughters have impressively brightened the name of this small Pak-Iran border town. For some Zubida Jalal, the former federal education minister and a current member of Pakistan’s National Assembly, and for the revolutionaries Banok Karima Baloch are role models. History cannot overlook both these brave daughters of Mand who rose from middle class families and got themselves recognized across the country and internationally. Mind you, the Zubida Jalal who remarkably impressed me is the one who ran a school for Baloch girls in her highly backward area, not the one who consolidated the hands of a military dictator who killed hundreds of people in Balochistan.
Karima Baloch and Zubida surely harbor divergent views and have conflicting destinations. What I see common in both of them is the steadfast pursuance of their mission for their own people. They accomplished such goals which even many Baloch men could not do so.
“We were annoyed over the manhandling of Baloch women by the FC during the raid on the house of Ali Jan. We did not provoke the FC officials but pressed them to meet our demands. However, the FC men resorted to baton charge, shelling and use of clubs against all the protestors,” Karima told me on the phone
According to her, the arrest Balochi writer, who is also a government teacher, was a patient of diabetes and had recently retuned to his home town after getting treated in Karachi. However, he had to go back to Karachi on August 11 for further medical check-up. While the FC has handed Ali to the local police, the whereabouts of his son are unknown.
According to eyewitnesses, several women and children fell unconscious after teargas was used by the FC. A 14-year old girl was shifted to hospital for immediate medical treatment after she fell unconscious.
“The people of our area are tired of the constant harassment by the Frontier Corps and the Anti-Terrorist Force. They are increasing their deployment in the area and causing problems for the masses without any justification,” she complained, adding that the forces had recently unleashed a military operation in the Pak-Iran border town of Mand with the help of Iranian army and helicopters.
“The Iranian officials are also engaged in the military operation. Several eyewitnesses have told us that the officials busy in the operation spoke Persian which shows that the operation in the area is being conducted jointly by the Pakistani and Iranian forces,” alleged Karima, who was recently convicted by a Quetta-court of treason for delivering anti-Pakistan speeches.
A spokesman for the FC contradicted Karima Baloch’s allegations that the opening of tear gases on the protestors was unprovoked. Murtaza Baig, the spokesman, said the FC had to resort to tear gas shelling only when the women attempted to enter inside the FC camp from gate number three. He denied the reports that any female protestor had been injured in the clash.
During the clash between the FC personnel and female protestors, a local journalist Irshad Akhtar was badly beaten up by the FC personnel and his video camera was snatched by the authorities.
“I was performing my duty as a reporter-cum-cameraman when the FC personnel started to beat me. They dragged me and wanted to take me inside their camp until the protesting women intervened and helped to save me. I was left with many injuries,” Akhtar told scribe. He complained that the FC authorities had refused to return his camera which included the images and video clips of the protest demonstration.
Meanwhile, a journalists’ body in Turbat has strongly condemned the torture of Akhtar and preventing him from performing his duty. The journalists’ organization in Turbat demanded the return of the camera of Akhtar and asked the FC to apologize for its attitude towards journalists who become victims while performing their official duty.
Karami Baloch, the leader of the rally, confirmed with Daily Times that the journalist was beaten more brutally than the protestors.
Situation in Turbat district remained completely tense after the clash between women and the FC as the entire bazaar remained shut and traffic in the area remained thinner than the usual days.
Source: Malik Siraj Akbar Blog