KARACHI: The whereabouts of social worker and publisher Abdul Wahid Baloch, a resident of Lyari’s Gharib Shah Road, are still unknown after he went ‘missing’ on July 26 2016, while his family alleges that he was picked up by law enforcement agencies.
A telephone operator at the Civil Hospital in Karachi, Abdul Wahid is a book lover, and helped Baloch authors publish their works and activists print posters.
According to Ghulam Mohammad, a close friend and neighbor of his, he was known for participating in events, protest rallies and hunger strikes held by Baloch activists and fishermen for the missing persons. “He was referred to as comrade and used to be a constant fixture at the Karachi Press Club.”
Speaking to Dawn, Baloch’s eldest daughter, 20-year-old Hani, said her father and his friend Sabir Ali Sabir, and his two children, were coming back from an event in Digri on Tuesday afternoon when two men in civilian clothes, “one in black and the other in white, came towards the van as it stopped at the Superhighway toll plaza and asked my father’s friend to show his identity card.”
“A law enforcement personnel in plainclothes and a uniformed policeman entered the van and started checking the CNICs of all passengers,” said Sabir, who is a fisherman by profession. “After checking Wahid’s identity card, they asked him to come with them.”
Baloch told the men that he was a government employee and refused to go along with them, said Sabir, adding that Baloch is employed at Civil Hospital, Karachi, as telephone operator. “He even showed them his hospital card but they snatched it from him,” he said.
Hani was given details of the incident by her father’s friend.
“One of the men dressed in black coloured shalwar kameez — similar to how the Levies dress in Balochistan — then turned towards my father and asked him to show his identity card. Upon looking at his ID, the man took out his phone and checked something. He then asked my father to step out with his bags. As he did so, the men asked the driver to leave immediately.”
According to Hani, the two men were standing near a blue-coloured Vigo in which her father was taken away.
The family, along with a few friends, approached the Gadap Town police station, located right next to the toll plaza. “The police refused to register an FIR and asked us to wait for three days, as he might return. We then approached the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), where we submitted an application along with his details,” Hani added.
Another application was submitted by the Civil Hospital administration to the Gadap police station, acknowledging Abdul Wahid as an employee working with the hospital for the past 25 years.
Vice chairperson of the HRCP, Sindh, Asad Iqbal Butt said that Abdul Wahid’s family approached him on Wednesday and submitted an application. “What bothers me is the fact that there’s a police station and a Pakistan Rangers checkpost situated right next to the toll plaza and yet a man was whisked away so easily,” he said.
Asad Butt added that they have asked the family to push the Gadap Town police to register an FIR which would “strengthen their case,” in case they eventually want to move a petition in the court.
Abdul Wahid has four children — three daughters and a son.
Published in Dawn & Express Turibun, July 30th, 2016