Calling for disarmament

December 17, 2023

A three-day shutdown in Turbat was followed by a long march to Quetta to protest the death of Balach Baloch

Calling for disarmament


n the night of November 22, the Counter-Terrorism Department claimed to have killed four terrorists in an encounter on Pasni Road in Turbat and recovered a large number of weapons.

The family of Balach Mola Bakhsh, a 24-year-old allegedly killed in the encounter, disputed the CTD’s position. The family said that he had not been a terrorist and that he had been in custody since his arrest on October 29. They alleged that he was killed in a ‘fake encounter’ and then labelled a terrorist.

On November 23, some women as well as men came out to protest his death in Shaheed Fida Chowk, Turbat. The protestors placed Balach’s body in front of them. They also held placards sporting pictures of missing persons and demanded that they be recovered.

A complaint was then registered against the CTD SHO and other officials at the City police station in Turbat city on December 9 on the complaint of Balach Baloch’s father Mola Bakhsh. It included charges of murder and attempted murder.

On Tuesday, December 11, the Balochistan High Court ordered the suspension of four CTD officials from Makran.

A local journalist Ayaz Aslam told The News on Sunday that Balach’s family claim that, on October 29, more than 20 men barged into their house, held them up and took Balach Bakhsh with them. According to the family, after 20 days of this incident, the CTD registered a case against Balach claiming that weapons had been recovered from him. Aslam said that the family claimed to have met him on November 21, when he was produced in court.

Aslam said that on November 23 when news of the CTD killing four alleged terrorists began making the rounds, one of them was identified as Balach Mola Bakhsh. The family refused to bury the body and started a protest demonstration in Turbat that was attended by many people from the civil society, Baloch Yakjehti Committee and representatives from major political parties and the general public.

On November 25, a sit-in protest was held in front of the sessions court with the body. After a day-long sit-in, the court ruled that FIRs should be registered against the officials involved in the incident. However, the police did not register an FIR. This led to the protest expanding beyond Turbat.

There was a complete shutdown in Turbat for three days and a large number of people joined the protest. On the seventh day of the sit-in, Balach Baloch’s body was buried after consultation with his family, civil society and Baloch Yekjahti committee. After 13 days, the Baloch Yekjahti Committee announced a long march, which later reached Quetta from Turbat.

Samee Deen Baloch, the daughter of Deen Mohammad Baloch, who has been missing for 14 years, is currently leading the Baloch Yekjahti Committee. Samee Deen told TNS that Balach Baloch was killed by the CTD unjustly. She claimed that he was produced before a court 20 days after being picked up. “The court had remanded Balach in CTD custody for 10 days,” said Baloch, adding “…his death during that time is a blatant disregard of the court’s order.”

Samee Deen also said that Balach’s family had followed the due process while he was in custody. “When his family received his body from Civil Hospital, they staged a peaceful sit-in against the CTD. During this time, only the deputy commissioner and the assistant commissioner made attempts to negotiate with the family. After seven days, the family buried Balach’s body but the sit-in continued. After thirteen days, the sit-in turned into a march (to Quetta). [Later] the march became a movement, the relatives of many missing persons have joined,” said Samee Deen.

She said that Balach Mola Bakhsh’s family was demanding its right from all constitutional and legal avenues. They were raising their voice. “However, if they are not treated fairly, this will amount to putting the power of the gun above every constitutional principle,” she said.

Samee Deen Baloch also said that the families were calling on the government to disarm the CTD and other agencies that violate the constitution, hold their officials accountable, produce all the missing persons in court and form a truth commission to investigate the death of Balach and others killed by the CTD.

“No dialogue has been initiated by any government agency so far to resolve these issues,” said Baloch.

Commenting on a statement issued by caretaker information minister Jan Achakzai, who recently said that those who marched for terrorists would be considered facilitators of terrorists, Baloch said that no court had declared Balach a criminal as yet. She said that those who rejecting court orders were the actual terrorists.

Addressing the media at the site of the sit-in in Quetta, BYC leader Mah Rang Baloch said that the movement launched by the Baloch Yekjahti Committee for the past 21 days had reached Shal (Quetta) and culminated in a sit-in entering its third day.

“The media and the nation will be informed soon about the future stages and locations of the long march. A seminar will be held at 2 pm… in Shal. There will be a shutdown strike in Quetta tomorrow,” she said before appealing to the people to participate in the protest.

The writer is a freelance reporter 

Calling for disarmament