On Friday night as 72-year-old Qadeer or "Mama" Baloch as he is known, and a young marcher Farzana were returning to their place of stay in Islamabad after a TV show, unidentified men threatened them asking them to leave failing which they would face dire consequences. Yet on Saturday morning, undaunted, they continued their march to the capital.
Ringed by handholding masked young men, Mr. Baloch and his brave band of followers walked in a slow procession from the Faizabad junction to the National Press Club Islamabad, and a modest crowd of supporters showered them with rose petals as they wheeled a small cart with framed photos of young men and women who had gone missing in Balochistan in the last decade or so.
Farzana said that she and the other marchers had to seek refuge for the night in the house of a well-wisher. "My toe nails have fallen off, I have lost weight and my skin is badly damaged during the march from Quetta since last October. Most of us have fallen ill and the strain is showing," she said.
Among the marchers are nine young women and three children, all of whom have lost a member of their family. Farzana said her life has been disrupted after her brother Zakir, a Baloch student leader, was taken away by security agencies some years ago. "We are struggling to cope with his loss and my family is bereft," she added.
Sixteen-year-old Sammi Baloch feels that despite walking for so many days and such a long distance, no one really cares about their plight. "We still have some hope of justice, otherwise we wouldn't be out walking on the streets," she said. The whereabouts of her father who was picked up by security agencies is still unknown.
Most of the young girls like Samina who studies in the 7th class and her younger brother Ali Haider have left school to take part in the march. Their father Mohammed Ramzan is missing. She hopes the United Nations will do something for the cause as the government was just ignoring their plight.
"We faced a lot of difficulties during the march but we don't want to talk about it. It is justice we are after," says the teenager. Mr. Baloch said that during the march people abused and threatened them at certain places and in some instances even fired at them from moving vehicles. A truck hit two of the supporters, injuring them. He said the organisation he founded, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons had requested a meeting with the United Nations when the UN Working Group had visited Balochistan two years ago.
"We were invited to meet them in Islamabad and we decided to walk the over 3300 km from Quetta in a bid to highlight our situation and seek UN intervention," he said.
The group used to cover 40 km a day when it set out on October 27, 2013 and has marched for over 100 days to get to the capital. He said security agencies continued to pick up people and kill them. Mohammed Ali Talpur, a senior activist, who was part of the march from Karachi, said that this was a message of defiance to the government and by bringing the march to the heart of the establishment, the people of Balochistan wanted to show case their plight. A number of Baloch students, their faces covered took part in the march.