Balochistan police’s Counter Terrorism Department, the CTD broke into the house of 68-year-old widow Mahnaz, in Satellite Town Quetta at around 11:00 pm Pakistan time on 17 February 2023, where she lives with her daughters, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren.
Forces locked the women and children of the house in different rooms, searched the house, took away the money and valuable possessions, and finally whisked away 68 years-old Mahnaz, 28 years-old Ms. Mahal, 12 yeas-old Ms. Banadi, 8 years-old Ms. Nograh, and 5 years-old Ms. Nazenk to a CTD’s detention center in an unknown place.
Mahnaz is a resident of Gomazi village of Tump district Kech, who shifted to Quetta in 2018. It was not possible for them to live in their village, after their house was attacked very often, by security forces, and the house was burnt down many times. Her husband, the old-aged Muhammad Hussain, a retired teacher was ill, suffering from a lung disease, and could not bear the pains and distress of the raids and house search every now and then.
Muhammad Hussain, the school teacher was well-known in the village for teaching his students wisdom, alongside school books, and encouraged them to observe the society they live in. His honest and wise opinion put him in a respectable place among political activists and so-called civil society.
His daughter, Bibi Gul, inspired by her father, became a human rights activist and gradually formed a human rights group, Baloch Human Rights Organization in 2012. This group formed a database of human rights violations in Balochistan for years and finally merged with the Human Rights Council of Balochistan in 2020. She is the chairperson of HRCB since February 2020.
Muhammad Hussain’s sons, Nadim and Baloch Khan participated in political activism. The politics of Balochistan took a violent turn and Muhammad Hussain’s sons Nadim and Baloch Khan went into hiding.
Later on, on 17 December 2016, the brothers were killed in a camp of BLF, an armed group resisting the country’s military and struggles for independence of Balochistan from Pakistan, what they call colonial rule. BLF never explained their murder but its supporters call Nadim and Baloch Khan martyrs, a word they use for the son of soil or a fallen hero who is killed by the enemy of their cause.
After the murder of Nadim and Baloch Khan, and the activism of Bibi Gul, the house became under continuous attack from the military. The raids lead the family to abandon their village, so they chose Quetta.
Mohammad Hussain passed away after years of suffering, in 2019 while Mahnaz stayed in the house with her remaining family, where the CTD attacked and abducted her on 17 February and all the women, as the family does not have any man survived, were taken to the police cells.
Next day, all of the rest were abandoned in a desolated place near Qambarani Road Quetta, threatened to keep quiet, while Mahal was kept in detention. Later on, CTD said in a press release that their “soldiers found a suspected lady with a bag, passing on the road. The soldiers stopped the lady, searched the bag, and found a suicide jacket, arms, and cash in the bag.” The statement says that she is part of BLF and is a suicide attacker to be. But the BLF has not so far carried out any suicide attacks during the more than two-decade-long armed conflict, nor does any woman participated in their operations ever.
12 years-old Banadi narrates the story in detail in a video, saying “someone knocked on the door at night. I called my aunt. We went to the door and asked who they are, but they did not reply. Then they broke into the house. They were soldiers in uniform, all men and only one woman. They kept all of us in one room and searched the whole house. Then they came with a bag, a gun, and some money in it. But it was not ours. They had it with them. We were kept in one room in the detention center and Mahal was kept in another room. We could hear her screams.”
The police CTD gained the reputation of “death squads in uniform” after their continuous extra-judicial operations. Last year, CTD killed 14 victims of enforced disappearances in fake encounters in a month. It also framed students in fabricated charges in the same pattern as Mahal’s case. If she had arms at the house, then why the CTD lies that she was arrested when she was passing by, having a bag in her hands?
There must be an impartial investigation into CTD’s false allegations and its operations. There are piles of evidence that prove that CTD is carrying out extrajudicial operations to suppress dissidents by framing them in bogus cases. Mahal is its latest victim.