With the current number of released Baloch protesters standing at 160, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee has said that more than a hundred protesters continue to remain detained by police, The Balochistan Post reported.
Moreover, there is growing worry that numerous others, most notably Zaheer Baloch, are still missing following the protests. The committee emphasised that ‘no one knows at all’ about the people who are missing since the protests started.
These students were arrested when they gathered to protest the federal government’s and Islamabad Police’s refusal to allow participants in the “Long March Against Baloch Genocide” to enter Islamabad.
In a recent development on December 26, 160 Baloch student demonstrators were released after being held in Islamabad by the police, according to The Balochistan Post. Soon after, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee denied the claims made by the Islamabad government to have released 290 protesters.
The Islamabad police used tear gas, batons and water cannons to suppress the peaceful protests, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. Over a dozen people remain missing, including Zaheer Baloch, a PhD candidate at Comsats University.
According to the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, more than a hundred protestors are still detained by police. Notably, the harsh crackdown in Islamabad has been widely condemned by national and international activists and human rights organisations.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Amnesty International have condemned the actions and called for the immediate release of the imprisoned protestors.
Well-known activists, like Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, have expressed support for the “Long March Against Baloch Genocide,” which seeks justice for the protestors, according to The Balochistan Post.
Furthermore, the European Union and the Norwegian Embassy have publicly decried the arrests of nonviolent protesters. The repercussions of Islamabad’s harsh crackdown have reverberated throughout Balochistan.
Over the last week, protests erupted in Turbat, Quetta, Khuzdar, Dalbandin, Gwadar, and other cities. Furthermore, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee organised large anti-government protests in Karachi, Lahore, and Bahawalpur.
Meanwhile, Mahrang Baloch, one of the march organisers, demanded the release of all the protesters “or otherwise we will be forced to take hard steps. Our demand is to release all detainees and this is our clear last warning.”
The Baloch protest march was started in Turbat on December 6 after the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Baloch youth by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel and reached the federal capital last week.
However, following their protest, they were met with brutal force and over 200 protestors were taken into custody by the Islamabad police. Later, to raise their voice against the crackdown, the march led by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee converted into a sit-in outside the National Press Club.
Earlier on December 23, the BYC gave a three-day ultimatum to the government to quash the cases registered against students and activists and release all of the protesters. The same day, the Islamabad police announced they were releasing all the detained protesters after their bail was approved.
Moreover, the police had also set up a “special help centre” for the release of incarcerated individuals.
(with inputs from ANI)