Pak army using chemical weapons in Baluchistan, say reports

01 September 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's highlighting of human rights violations in Baluchistan by Pakistan has only helped to worsen the sufferings of the beleaguered people of Pakistan's restive border province.

While the Pakistani Army's savagery in Baluchistan is nothing new, its scale is said to have intensified after Modi's Independence Day speech in which he referred to Pakistan's human rights violations in Baluchistan. A brutal crackdown followed.

According to activists, the Pakistan army used chemical weapons against people after Modi spoke of human rights violations in Baluchistan.

Reports quoting activists say that the number of dead and missing people in Baluchistan has witnessed a sharp surge, with at least 67 dead and over 150 missing in August alone.

The latest death reported in the army offensive was that of 10-year-old Sudees of Khuzdar tehsil on 30 August. Earlier, a youth named Amaan from the Mand area of Kech district, was shot on 28 August.

Fifteen bodies, some "mutilated beyond recognition", were recovered over the 27-28 August weekend from different areas of Dera Bugti, say reports.

"We had documented a total 66 extra judicial killings as of Sunday (August 28) evening. Forces buried bodies of three civilians in Sui region on Sunday night. Twelve more bodies were buried without any last rites by Pakistani forces in Anayat Shah Darbar area of Dera Bugti a night before. The bodies were later recovered by locals," IANS quoted Zamuran Baloch, a journalist-activist working underground and a member of the banned Baluchistan Journalist Forum (BJF), as saying.

None of the deaths or abductions was reported by a "widely censored" Pakistani media, the report said adding that dozens, including Aslam Majeed, a student from Atta Shad College in Turbat city of Kech district, were taken away by Frontier Corps (FC) of the Pakistan army on Saturday.

"Frontier Corps generally abducts people while the Death Squad, a religious militia that has the army`s support, often kills people in full public view," Hafsa Baloch, another BJF activist, told IANS.

The figures of dead, however, varied among activists. Some who did not want to be named claimed the toll to be around 60 and others put it at more than 65 so far in the month they called "bloody August".

Activists and journalists in Baluchistan recorded over 20 deaths in July and 32 in May. There was no way of independently verifying these figures, but activists are ready to give names and full details of the dead and missing persons.

"These numbers are not accurate, there must be more. We don`t know exactly how many had died or were taken away from New Kahan, a small town of Marri tribe situated about 15 km from Quetta (the provincial capital). The place is often referred as the `Gaza Strip` by Baloch people," Zamuran said.

Reports said the crackdown on influential Bugti tribal leaders has also intensified since 27 August. "Two elders of Bugti tribes from Sui, Wadera Elahi Baksh Bugti and Wadera Mohammad Baksh Mondrani Bugti, have been abducted by FC," reports quoted activist Hafsa Baloch as saying.

Activists on the ground said that over 20 mutilated bodies of previously missing Baloch, including women and children, were found dumped by the roadside between 14 and 20 August.

Mutilated bodies of three men with "missing organs" were recovered by locals from Lasbela district on August 24. "They were Razaq Marri, Sharif Baloch and Karam Khan. I knew Razaq personally, he was bold and would debate over the human rights situation here with anyone. All three bodies had their organs missing," Zamuran said.

Zamuran, who like many others activists and journalists had adopted a `pen-name`, speaks of a complete blackout on the media in Baluchistan following the recovery of the mutilated body of Baloch journalist Haji Razzak from Karachi on August 24, 2014.

Razzak, a sub-editor of the now shut Baloch newspaper "Daily Tawar", was abducted in March 2013. About 33 Baloch journalists, including Irshad Mastoi, Hameed Baloch, Manzur Bugti, to name a few, have been killed in Baluchistan in recent years.

"To do journalism or activism in Baluchistan is to invite death. Most of us had either gone underground, left the country or died," Zamuran said.

He added that while August has always been "macabre" for Baluchistan, this August is severe due to intensified anti-Pakistan protests with Indian flags.

"We mark our independence on August 11 and Pakistan on August 14, which is opposed by Baloch. This year, on the Indian Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi`s call on human right situation has given courage to people, so Pakistan is more aggressive," UK-based Baloch activist Faiz Muhammad Marri told IANS.

Sources in Baluchistan said that on August 11 Pakistani forces rounded up around 2,000 people from Quetta and Mastung while about 40 Marri Baloch were picked up from New Kahan, Quetta. He added that a crackdown also followed the August 8 attack on a Civil Hospital in Quetta.

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