For 16- year- old Sammi, it was not the gruelling 27- day march from Quetta to Karachi that was a problem. “It was nothing compared to the torture my family and I have gone through in the last four years since my father went missing,” she said.
Sammi is one of the 12 women who walked all the way for 27 days over 700 km to protest against the treatment meted out to their male family members.
“If there is another long march I will walk again. They picked up my father from a hospital in Mashkay at 1 am. We don’t know anything about him after that,” she said speaking on the phone from Karachi. A metric student and the eldest of three children, her family is finding it difficult to survive and has very little money. Many of the 18,000 missing persons could be dead, said Qadir Baloch who founded the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons in 2009.
A small group of 20 persons walked braving weather conditions to Karachi and after December 10 they aim to cover the distance between Karachi and Islamabad. People are picked up by security agencies and they don’t come back for ten years, sometimes they never do and their bodies are dumped here and there with slips of paper in their pockets, Mr. Baloch said.
His son Jalil, 30, who is a political worker with the Baloch Republican Party was picked up and three years later his body was found in a village bordering Iran. It was a shock which he overcame to set up this organization dedicated to focus on the plight of people in Balochistan which has been wracked by nationalist struggles and action by security forces.
After such incidents the Supreme Court took cognizance of the matter and an ongoing case demands accountability from the security agencies.
On Friday the apex court while directing the inspector general Frontier Corps (FC) to appear in court, said that there was credible evidence to establish the FC was behind enforced disappearances in Balochistan. It has also been asking for the missing men to be produced in court, something which the government has promised.
However, Mr. Baloch is not very optimistic. He said such orders have been issued in the past but nothing had come of it. “Even now people are getting picked up and no one obeys the court orders,” he told The Hindu on the phone from Karachi where the group is holding a peaceful protest outside the press club. Mr. Baloch has painstakingly prepared a list of 18,000 missing persons from the province since 2001. A list of 14,000 missing people was also submitted to the Supreme Court. He has records of 1500 bodies which were dumped.
"It’s a daily record and we have all the details of names, ages, places where the person was picked up from and if he returned at all. Most of those missing are young men, but there were some children and 170 women,” he said. The bodies are found dumped in Balochistan and even in Karachi.
Farzana’s brother Zahir was picked up in 2009 and his whereabouts are unknown. The 26 –year- old was a student leader of a Baloch group and once they get did a message from another person who was released from a detention camp that he was still there. But for two years now, there is no news about him. “He is my older brother. My hopes are alive and I am looking to the media for justice,” said Farzana.
According to a report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) fact finding mission titled “Hopes Fears and Alienation in Balochistan” of 2012,Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest province and its least populous and most troubled. The most dominant feature of the province is a violent insurgency in the Baloch majority districts that started in 2006 after the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation. From the year 2000 till 2012, the HRCP recorded 198 missing persons from Balochistan. It also gathered evidence of 57 bodies, some of them unidentified, that were found in the same province. Some months ago, the HRCP noted with concern the continued dumping of mutilated dead bodies of missing Baloch men in Karachi and demanded that the killers be brought to justice. The body of Abdul Razzaq, a Balochistan-based journalist who lived in Karachi’s Lyari area and had been missing since March, was so badly mutilated that his family could not identify him in August. In the end, only his arms and legs were sufficiently intact to enable identification.