Mar 22: Remembering the Kahudai Family of Pidarak, Balochistan

Balochistan is a vast underdeveloped region that comprises almost half of the land mass of Pakistan with 600 miles of coastline along the Arabian Sea. The port town of Gwadar has gained much international media attention recently because of its central role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and geopolitical importance vis-a-vis Iran and the oil-rich Arab Kingdoms of the Arabian Gulf.

In the backdrop of international conflicts and trade wars lies a forgotten piece of history and land called Balochistan, rapidly becoming the centre of a storm brewing for the last seventy years with the potential to change the political map and the course of history. This is the story of one Baloch family, their heroic resistance to military occupation and their death in defending their land.

View of Pidarak

Pidarak, a union council of tehsil Buleda, is an area located in Makran’s politically most influential district Kech, the home constituency of former Chief Minister, Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch (June 2013 – December 2015). Pidarak is situated 115 km from Gwadar and 27 km from the Turbat city. This stretch of land with rolling hills and a few scattered hamlets is home to the Kahudai family. Groves of date palm trees and goats, in the backdrop of barren hills pretty much describes the rugged beauty of the place and its inhabitants.

View of Pidarak

The silent peace of Pidarak was shattered on March 22, 2014 by the tragic massacre of the Kahudai family members at the hands of Pakistan army personnel, guided and supported by the local death squad assassins. On the fateful night, troops cordoned the area and descended upon the homes in search of the male members of the family. Before the night of terror was over, five men of the Kahudai family lay dead, brutally murdered by the Pakistani military and their death squad operatives. Eight other men of the family were taken into custody, blind folded and moved to undisclosed locations. They endured worst form of torture that lasted seven months. After their release, all the eight victims were crippled and barely alive.

View of Pidarak

This is the saga of the Kahudai family and the hell they experienced on earth, the night of March 22, 2014. Mohammad Essa Kamal Kahudai, the patriarch of the family; Murad Hasil (brother-in-law of Kamal Kahudai) along with his two sons Islam Murad and Ikram Murad; and Sameer Naseer (nephew) s/o Naseer Kamalan (first cousin) – all fell victims to the state sponsored killings in Pidarak. The bodies of the five slain Kahudai men were collected by the devastated relatives and silently buried at their ancestral graveyard. All the facts were gathered from the witnesses and family members, now scattered and in hiding. The remaining members of the family are still being hunted by the Pakistani military intelligence and their death squad assassins.

Mohammad Essa Kamal Kahudai:

The 51-year-old patriarch of the Kahudai family was a teacher by profession and held a B.Ed. and M.A. in Balochi. He was well versed in Balochi literature, history and was a poet who loved expressing his passion for the land and its people. Kamal Kahudai was born into the family of Kahuda Moosa on June 10, 1963 in the hamlet of Dramakol in Pidarak. His keen interest in educating the Baloch youth, led him into the teaching profession. Later, he became the principal of the school in Pidarak.

House of Kamal Kahudai

On the fateful night of March 22, 2014, the Pakistani soldiers, military intelligence personnel and members of the death squad encircled the house of Kamal Kahudai from all sides and took positions aiming at the residents. Kamal Kahudai knew that this was not a simple case of arrest for questioning. He grabbed his weapon and was willing to die but not without a fight. The women folk of the household advised him not to fight because it would be a bloody massacre of the women and children. He gave himself up to save his family and was then dragged out of the house by the soldiers aided by the death squad assassins.

Sardar Abdul Aziz Bizenjo with NP President Hasil Khan Bizenjo

He was taken to a nearby stream, Aapband Kor, not far from his house and executed in cold blood. His family found his bullet-riddled body later dumped near the stream with dozens of bullet wounds. His family recalled that they had recognized Sardar Abdul Aziz Bizenjo and Rashid Pathan, the two local commanders of the death squad guiding the soldiers and ordering their henchmen to secure the dirt roads that led to their house.

Kamal Kahudai began his career as a bank clerk in the early 1970s but was soon disillusioned with the job. He then left the country to work overseas in the United Arab Emirates, the boom time oil exploration in the Persian Gulf Kingdom. This also was the time of political turmoil in Balochistan – National Awami Party (NAP), the largest secular democratic opposition was banned by the Bhutto administration and the elected assembly in Balochistan was dissolved. In response to these autocratic measures by Islamabad stirred an armed rebellion in Balochistan that would last four years (1973-1977) without a resolution.

However, during his stay in the U.A.E., Kahudai helped in founding a Baloch welfare association to help his brethren in securing livelihood on foreign soil and support their families back home. All this time, he was in communication with Baloch political activists and literary personalities in Balochistan and abroad. He strived in the Baloch Diaspora for the preservation and promotion of the cultural identity of his people through literary conferences, musical events and by publishing Baloch writers and poets.

School in Pidarak

In the late 1980s, by the end of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq’s military rule in Pakistan, Kamal Kahudai ended his stay in the U.A.E. and returned to his native Pidarak in Balochistan. Here he focused his attention on education, youth and a teaching profession that ended on March 22nd, the night he was murdered in cold blood. He wholeheartedly embraced the idea of a political platform that was able to unite Baloch nationalists and the youth and thus Baloch National Youth Movement (BNYM) was formed in 1987. Later, the ‘Youth’ part was dropped from the title for convenience and the new platform quickly became popular as Balochistan National Movement (BNM).

However, in 2004, when BNM went through another major split led by Dr. Abdul Hayee Baloch who merged his faction with Hasil Khan Bizenjo’s Balochistan National Democratic Party (BNDP) to form the National Party; Kamal Kahudai bid farewell to party politics and chose an individual path for himself. While the other faction of BNM chose Ghulam Mohammad as their chief and announced their policy of ‘independent Balochistan’ as their only goal in contrast to contesting in general elections for seats in the parliament.

Kamal Kahudai, although disillusioned by party politics, remained a staunch Baloch nationalist till the end. In 2006, the former Chief Minister Balochistan and the chieftain of the powerful Bugti tribe, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was assassinated by the Pakistan Army on the orders of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Nawab Bugti’s murder sparked a Balochistan-wide outcry and protest that literally paralyzed the government machinery and brought all life to a standstill in the province. As a spontaneous reaction to Pakistani military’s murderous act, people began pulling down the Pakistani flags on government building and schools, replacing them with the flag of sovereign Balochistan.

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Kamal Kahudai inspired by the rebellious mood of the people, ripped off the Pakistani flag from his school and replaced it with the flag of sovereign Balochistan. He also took down the portrait of Jinnah, founder of Pakistan and hung a picture of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in the school. In 2009, after the murder of Ghulam Mohammad, chief of BNM; Kahudai added his picture next to Nawab Bugti’s. As the principal of the school; he prepared special lectures for his students on the subject of history of Balochistan, Balochi language, literature and Baloch politics with biographies of famous Baloch personalities. Kahudai also banned the Pakistani national anthem from his school because he believed it to be a symbol of slavery and occupation. During the morning assemblies of the students, he encouraged them to sing Baloch patriotic songs to develop in them the love for their motherland. He faced constant threats and intimidations by the authorities but he never budged.

On June 7, 2013, the Pakistani establishment supported Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch to become the next Chief Minister of Balochistan. Pidarak and the school where Kamal Kahudai taught and was the principal fell within the electoral constituency of Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch. It was obvious that Kahudai’s activities in Pidarak and at the school were a thorn in the side of the establishment and Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch. By the end of 2013, Kamal Kahudai was removed as the principal of the school in Pidarak.

Service Card of Kamal Kahudai

In January 2014, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch declared ‘education emergency’ in the province, imposing strict rules and regulations at schools and colleges with strict security measures. Supposedly, this was going to help uplift the literacy standards in Balochistan while the ongoing forced disappearances of Baloch students by the state security forces continued unabated. This turned out to be a move by the establishment to regain control over the schools where it had become a growing trend to disobey the state by ripping off the Pakistani flag and refusing to recite the anthem. The family members of Kamal Kahudai knew the price of resisting the state and its ideological symbols and they were prepared for the outcome.

Local death squad leader Rashid Pathan

Murad Hasil, Ikram Murad, Islam Murad and Sameer Naseer Kamalan:

Both the home estates of Kamal Kahudai – in Pidarak and Dramakol residences came under attack simultaneously that night. Murad Hasil and his son Ikram Murad were caught off guarded when they were arrested by the raiding party at their residence in Dramakol. In the meanwhile, Islam Murad and Sameer Naseer Kamalan were alerted by sensing the unusual activities in their vicinity and armed themselves with whatever weapons they could lay their hands on. They did not waste time in opening fire on the soldiers, creating an opportunity for Murad Hasil to slip away and arm himself with a rifle.

Upon suffering casualties, the soldiers and their accomplices lobbed a grenade towards the position held by Sameer and Islam which instantly killed Sameer while Islam was badly hurt but continued resisting, halting their advance. At this point, the soldiers dragged Islam’s mother at the scene, pointing a gun at her and threatening to kill her if he did not surrender. She called upon her son not to surrender to the dogs and that if he did, she would never forgive him.

The soldiers, after failing to force Islam to surrender, gagged the brave mother and shouted that they had killed her. This instance, Islam leaped out of cover while firing in the direction of the soldiers, bringing down some before he was gunned down in a volley of bullets.

Murad Hasil, after running out of bullets, called his daughter to inform her that he had spent all his ammo and was in turn informed about his son Islam and Sameer being fatally shot by the soldiers. The news was devastating for Murad Hasil; he madly dashed out and grabbed hold of his son’s lifeless body in agony. In no time he was surrounded by the soldiers who had already apprehended his remaining son Ikram. Murad Hasil, Ikram and eight other men of the family, arrested by the soldiers were escorted out of the area, blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs. The soldiers also took the bodies of Islam and Sameer with them.

Later that day, soldiers belonging to Frontier Corps (FC) brought four bodies to the Civil Hospital Turbat. And next day, the Pakistani newspapers carried the official ISPR version of the story that five militants were killed by FC in retaliation while eight surrendered to the authorities along with their weapons. The official media also mentioned that a large cache of arms was discovered during a search operation in Pidarak used by the miscreants.

Member of a local death squad in Pidarak

It was later revealed to the Kahudai family that Murad Hasil and his son Ikram were executed within hours following their arrival at the FC camp in Turbat on the night they were taken away by the soldiers.

The Kahudai family collected the bodies of their loved ones from the hospital morgue and buried the dead at their ancestral graveyard after a simple funeral service. Kamal Kahudai, Murad Hasil, Islam Murad and Ikram Murad were buried in Dramakol, Pidarak. Sameer Naseer Kamalan’s remains were taken to the coastal town of Pasni where he was laid to rest alongside of his father, the martyred poet, Naseer Kamalan who was abducted by the ISI in 2010 and his tortured body was dumped a year later in 2011.

Murad Hasil served in the Royal Omani Army Medical Corps for some years in his youth. However, on December 9, 1979, Hameed Baloch, 22, a member of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO) stood up against the Baloch recruitment in the Omani army. The incident that took place in Makran involved Hameed Baloch firing upon an Omani army officer in protest against Baloch being hired as mercenaries to fight against the Dhofar rebellion (1962-1976) in Oman. Hameed Baloch was hanged on June 11, 1981 at Mach Jail in Balochistan. Murad Hasil became disillusioned and retired from his job to start a new life back home. He ran a medical store in Turbat for a while then worked as a “teacher of Quran” at the Pidarak School. Being a politically aware person, he taught his family to be faithful to the Baloch cause.

Islam Murad, a teacher by profession, was a political activist from his student years. He became a sympathizer of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) from its yearly days of armed struggle against the Pakistani occupation forces.  In 2011, he was officially given the command of BLF’s Pidarak region. He remained faithful to the Baloch cause and his organization till the day he embraced martyrdom.

Sameer Naseer Kamalan was born and grew up in Pasni. His father Naseer Kamalan was a renowned Balochi poet and member of the central committee of Baloch National Movement (BNM). Therefore, literature and politics were the basis of the teachings he received from his early days.  He joined Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) in 2009 and gradually with time he was commanding urban network of BLF in Pasni. On 17 January 2011, his father’s mutilated body was dumped after being abducted from Gwadar and tortured to death by the Pakistani ISI. Later, Sameer moved out of his home town of Pasni and joined his comrades in the Pidarak area hills where he remained active until his death.

Ikram Murad was born and raised in Pidarak. He received his early political education from his father. During his early schools years, Ikram joined Baloch Students Organization – Azad (BSO-Azad). While in high school at Atta Shad Degree College Turbat he became zonal office-bearer of BSO (Azad). In 2010, Ikram enrolled himself at the Balochistan University, Quetta. While taking part in a protest in 2010, students burned the Pakistani flag to commemorate 14th August (Pakistani Independence Day) as the “Black Day” on the call of BSO (Azad). Ikram got arrested when police attacked the protesters. He was severely tortured and beaten up at the police station. After his release on bail and recovering from his wounds, he continued his activism with great zeal. During the semester break at University in 2014, he returned home to visit his family where he was arrested on the night of March 22nd.  Ikram Murad was the information Secretary of BSO (Azad) Quetta zone when he was killed in cold blood by Pakistan army.

Since 2014, Pakistani law enforcement agencies with the help of the local death squad assassins have been abducting and harassing the Kahudai family. So far more than a dozen male members of the family have been killed while many more enforced disappeared. The missing members of the family are presumed dead and buried in unmarked mass graves in Balochistan.

Members of a local death squad posing in front of Kahudai house

Today, none of the surviving members of the Kahudai family live in Dramakol or anywhere in Pidarak. Even woman, children and the elderly are in hiding, scattered in different places, fearful for their lives. All of their homes and agricultural lands have been confiscated by the Pakistani state, currently being used as camps and torture chambers of the death squad gang led by Sardar Abdul Aziz Bizenjo and his son Mufti Shahmeer Aziz. After capturing Pidarak, the death squad now controls the neighbouring towns and villages, extending its reach to other parts of the Makran region.

Local death squad leader Mufti Shahmeer s/o Sardar Abdul Aziz Bizenjo

The rise and fall of the Kahudai family is a tragic story that reflects the lives of every household in Balochistan today. From coast to coast, the whole region is a war zone where human rights and freedom of press does not exist. It’s a political black hole that is rapidly drawing in all humanity, Baloch heritage, natural resources and cultural values of a people.

Today, as the Pakistani military marches forward deep into the Baloch country, people see no other option but to unite themselves for the grand final battle that will lead them to victory and freedom.

Long Live Free and United Balochistan

Struggle Until Victory

Baloch Vanguards

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