In the last month of 2020, Pakistan’s security forces forcibly disappeared 49 people from different areas of Balochistan. Twenty-one of the abducted were released after a few days of torture while three of them were killed and their bodies were dumped. However, the whereabouts of 25 of them remain unknown. Moreover, 36 people were killed in separate incidents; eight including a minor were killed in military shelling on a shrine, three were shot dead after two days of their arrest and two minors were whisked away by gunmen of a death squad and killed and dumped their bodies.
A human rights icon and the most vocal advocate of women’s rights in Balochistan Karima Baloch, 37, was found dead in Toronto, Canada, on December 21. She had disappeared a day earlier in Toronto and the police later found her body in a lake after 16 hours. Political and human rights activists in Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Canada, USA and Europe and other parts of the world came to streets in protest and demanded that Canada investigate the incident as Karima had been receiving death threats from the Pakistan military. Many of her family members, including an uncle, were abducted by personnel of Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force in Balochistan, and their mutilated bodies were later found dumped on roadsides. Pakistan’s military and its notorious intelligence agency, Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), was accused in Karima’s case, as the military has been chasing and attacking human rights and political activists outside Pakistan as well.
On December 20, a Baloch nationalist Gul Bhar Bugti and his son Murad Ali Bugti were gunned down by unknown assailants in Kandahar city of Afghanistan. He had been targeted many times before but had survived. It was the third attack on him since he and his family migrated to Afghanistan. In 2011, a suicide bomber blew himself in front of his house in Spin Boldak, a town near Pak-Afghan border. The attack left two people including Gul Bahar’s son Dur Khan Bugti dead, while several others including women and children were injured. In 2013, another assassination attempt claimed the life of his grandson Nehal Khan Bugti and nephew Zar Khan Bugti. The family blamed the ISI for the attacks.
Moreover, on the same day, the army bombed a shrine in Murad Bakhsh village of Keelkore in district Panjgur. The attack claimed the lives of eight people of the same family, including a teenage boy Hamza Umar. The army personnel dumped the body of the teenager and transferred the bodies of the others to a hospital in Kolwah. The deceased were identified as Abdul Samad Bahram, Murad Mohammad Miskan, Hasil Haider, Saeed Mehrab, Abdul Wahid Musa and Abdul Qadir Bakhsh.
On December 21, during military raids the forces forcibly disappeared 16 people from different villages of Kolwah, district Awaran. The abducted were identified as Limbo Dostain, Wahag Madad, Bakhsho Gamani, Haider Ghulam Mohammad, Basheer Karim Dad, Deen Mohammad Rahmat, Hammal Bashir, Pir Bakhsh Mola Bakhsh, Charo Haider, Rasheed Haider, Gamani Gajiyaan, Imam Gajiyaan. Shokat Telahu, Allah Dad Khaliq, Diljan Madad and Rakko Madad.
Two days later on December 23, the forces handed over the bodies of three of the abducted people, Allah Dad Khaliq, Diljan, Madad and Rakko Madad, to a local hospital in Awaran while the rest were later released.
On December 16, a clash erupted between two groups in the Parom area of district Panjgur resulting in the death of five people and injury to three. Reports suggest that both groups collected illegal taxes and ran a drug business under the supervision of the army. The police seem reluctant and helpless to take any action against the groups.
On December 7, two teenage boys Ameer Bakhsh, 16, and Haneef Meeran, 13, disappeared while traveling to Turbat from Tejaban area of district Kech. Their mutilated bodies were found the next day under a bridge in Herronk, 20 miles away from Tejaban. Both the boys were allegedly abducted by members of a local death squad for being family members of political activists.
As many as 49 people were abducted by the military in the month of December. Twenty-one were later released, three abductees were extrajudicially killed and their bodies were handed to a local hospital in Kolwah while the whereabouts of the other 25 remain unknown.
On December 3, army officials stopped two local transport vehicles at Syahdam checkpost in Gichk area of district Panjgur and detained the passengers of both the vehicles. Later, they were released except for Dur Mohammad Hassan, his wife Bibi Mariyum and their three grandchildren Rashid Awaz, Ajmal Shah Jan and Samani Shah Jan. They were taken to a nearby building which once served as Syahdam High School Gichk. In 2017, the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force, suspended the classes and turned the building into a part of its check post. Six months ago, the regular army replaced the Frontier Corps and since then Gichk has been witnessing army raids, enforced disappearances and the wrath of the intelligence officials on a daily basis.
The family was released after days of harassment and torture.
Since assuming the charge in Gichk, the army has implemented new laws and regulations. It is forbidden to light a lantern at night. In case of a wedding ceremony or a burial, it is obligatory to notify the army to get a permit. To travel to a nearby city, it’s also been made obligatory to submit a copy of the NIC to the army.
Gichk and surrounding areas have been witnessing large-scale military operations since August 2020. In several areas, it is obligatory for the males of villages aged 12 and older to appear in military camps once a month. During the summons, they are humiliated and most of the time subjected to torture during interrogation.
On December 15, the forces whisked away Deedag Pirdad during a raid on his house in Alandoor area of district Kech. Deedag’s parents had migrated from Shahrak a few years ago after Frontier Works Organization, a military construction company, began work on a road, which led to forced displacement of the inhabitants of the area and obliteration of their settlements.
On December 16, Waheed Ilahi Bakhsh was whisked away by army some hundred meters from his home in Dolechi Jhao area of Awaran. He was brutally tortured for eleven days and released without any explanation. For years, the family has remained a victim of Pakistani military’s ruthless policies in Balochistan.
On May 7, 2016, the army whisked away Waheed’s father Ilahi Bakhsh Pirjan from the same checkpost. He was kept incommunicado for almost three years and on January 3, 2019, his mutilated dead body was found dumped in Hub Chowki, district Lasbela, some 250 miles away from Dolechi Jhao.
Moreover, on May 10, 2016, the army had shot dead Mujahid Murad in Wadi Bijjar Jhao area of district Awaran. Mujahid was a cousin of Waheed, Zonal Deputy Secretary of the Baloch National Movement, a political party struggling for the right of self-determination for the Baloch people. The army had shot him dead. For days, the army had refused to hand over the body for a proper burial. Later, he was buried in Wadi Bijjar Jhao. After Mujahid’s death, the army whisked away his father, Murad Pir Jan. He was subjected to inhumane torture during detention and later released without any explanation.
On December 27, the forces forcibly disappeared seven people from Gichk area of district Panjgur. The abductees were identified as Murad Bahram, Lal Jan Inam, Jumma Swali, Luqman Nazum, Murad Bakhsh Khuda Bakhsh, Daru Naseer and Nadil Mir Jan. Luqman Nazum was released later but the whereabouts of the others remain unknown.
Thirteen people were forcibly disappeared by the army during military raids in Shahrag area district Kacchi on December 30. The abductees were identified as Babu Sheer Mohammad, Attaullah Sher Mohammad, Malik Manzoor Ahmed, Tayyab Malik Manzoor, Saeed Nazeer Ahmed, Hafeez ur Rehman, Aziz ur Rehman, Abdul Razzaq Sher Zaman, Noor Mohammad, Sabir Khan Ghazi, Ali Mohammad Zafar and Khaliq Dad Khaira.
In a separate raid of forces, Wahid Bakhsh was whisked away from his home in Kaleri Paroom area of district Panjgur.