Robbery killing rocks Balochistan

A Turbat woman and her four-year-old child were shot during a robbery

Streets protests continue in all major cities of Balochistan over the death of a woman during a botched robbery.

Maliknaz, 27, had died from gunshot wounds on May 26 and her four-year-old child was wounded when she confronted two robbers who had barged into her house in Turbat.

The death seems to have revived many grievances against state machinery and people are protesting in many towns and cities of Balochistan. A similar protest was held in Karachi on June 6.

According to police, two gunmen had forced their way into Maliknaz’s house, located in Donak locality of Turbat. After locking the two male family members in another room, they had entered the room of Maliknaz, 27, who was asleep with her daughter, Brumsh, and started looking or valuables. Maliknaz woke up and tried to grab the handgun from one of the robbers. A scuffle ensued and the second robber fired several shots, wounding both the woman and daughter. Maliknaz died on the spot.

The noise alarmed the neighbours who gathered outside the house. While one of the robbers escaped, the other was caught. The child is being treated at a Karachi hospital for a gunshot wound on her arm. Her condition is stable.

Police have since then arrested two other suspects.

Following the incident, protest demonstration have been staged all over Makran and other major cities. Rights activists have demanded justice for the family.

Maliknaz’s family has so far refused to talk to the media, fearing for their lives.

The criminal gangs have been operating in the area for many years. “Nobody has stood up to them until now. A woman has shown the people finally that they can resist these criminals,” says Social activist Zareef Zardag.

Senior police officials have identified the suspect arrested from the scene of the crime as Altaf. “His accomplice has been identified as Basit. In the past, they have been part of a Baloch militant group. However, last year they surrendered to authorities and joined a group, headed by Sameer alias Sabzal,” officials said.

Rights activists say they fear that the robbers and their patrons will not be brought to justice.

During the protest demonstrations, several political leaders openly criticised the government and security agencies for their patronage of criminals.

“Those involved in the crime have already been arrested. Even the ones nominated later are now in police custody and are being interrogated. They will soon be presented in a court,” Makran Division Commissioner Tariq Qamar says.

Makran division comprises three districts all sharing a border with Iran. The law and order situation here has been tense since 2006. Several militant groups have been involved in terrorist activities in the area, including target-killings of Punjabi labourers and security personnel.

The situation had started improving 2012 following operations by security forces in which dozens of militants were killed. The militants who surrendered before the authorities had started helping security forces by providing information.

However, there have been complaints against them of criminal activities including extortion, abduction for ransom, robbery and vehicle snatching. There is great anger among the people against the government on account of these criminal activities. Opposition political parties are also vocal critics of the government.

“It is a popular reaction. People have been expressing their anger for days against the creation and maintenance of criminal gangs. These gangs are not doing any good. Instead, they are bringing a bad name to the security agencies,” says Haleem Baloch, a spokesman for All Parties Action Committee.

“It is the government’s responsibility to restore the confidence of the people, who believe that the killers will be released once the protests subside,” he says.

Social activist Zareef Zardag says that the criminal gangs have been operating in the area for many years. “Nobody has stood up to them until now. A woman has shown the people finally that they can resist these criminals,” he says.

Robbery killing rocks Balochistan