April 18, 2022
By Asim Ahmed Khan
Reports have emerged of eight more people being injured in violent protests in Balochistan’s Chaghai district on Monday, after which the Balochistan National Party (BNP) walked out of the National Assembly in protest. In an announcement made on Monday, party leader Akhtar Mengal expressed his disappointment at confidence-building measures by the current government.
“How can we be part of this government when such incidents take place?,” he claimed in a tweet. “Are these confidence-building measures? Is violence going to solve Balochistan’s problem? Our priority is Balochistan and its people and I want to categorically state that there will be no COMPROMISE.
Today 6 people were critically injured by the FC in Chagai simply for protesting peacefully. BNP has walked out of the NA assembly today. The genocide of Baloch continues till date. pic.twitter.com/kanX4Gkl2d
— Akhtar Mengal (@sakhtarmengal) April 18, 2022
In the same incident, FC personnel also seized the vehicles of other truck drivers after they protested against the killing on the spot. It is claimed around 200 trucks were stopped and the personnel dumped sand in their radiators forcing drivers to walk through the blazing temperatures of the Kharan Desert.
Various videos are circulating online since Friday, where the drivers claim that security forces shot out their tires, effectively stranding some 50 to 100 people in the desert. They say that they were forced to walk for hours in the heat, sans any water or food, back to Nokundi.
“They [Security forces] caught us & put sand in the [engine] of our vehicle & told us to walk on foot in the deserts. There were around 200 vehicles stuck. We youth walked in the deserts, but we have lost contact with many. We don’t know whether they are alive or not.” says one truck driver.
One of these videos also shows at least three people passed out – or possibly dead – from the heat, exhaustion and thirst, however, these deaths are not yet confirmed. “Around 15 or 16 drivers have reached the cities, but they probably do not know what has happened to the others,” says Habib Tahir, Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). “The desert is huge and for anyone walking it can easily take up to 6 hours to cross. Anyone can get lost there and the temperatures easily go up to the 40s,” he says.
As a result the HRCP expressed its shock over the incident saying that extrajudicial killings were ‘unacceptable regardless of the circumstances and the perpetrators must be identified and held accountable.
“The incident reflects a coldblooded disdain for basic humanity and the right to life,” reads the statement. “In a province that has been sorely neglected for decades, the callousness displayed by security forces towards residents continues unchecked. We strongly urge the provincial government to investigate this incident and ensure it does not recur.”
THE BORDER KILLING
After the incident where Hameedullah was killed, several other truck drivers and residents of Nokkundi placed his body on the RCD Highway and blocked all traffic for several hours. The protestors were later made to disperse but the situation worsened when at another location, protesters attacked a building that was being used by the FC. Security forces responded by aerial firing to disperse the mob, injuring several others.
Later the wounded were shifted to a rural healthcare centre for immediate first aid, of whom five were later referred to the Prince Fahad Hospital in Dalbadin while two were shifted to a trauma hospital in Quetta for further treatment.
The Chagai Deputy Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Baloch claimed that the matter regarding Hameedullah’s killing will be dealt with in line with tribal traditions. He also said that the confiscated vehicles would be returned to their owners.
But despite the claim to mediate the issue through a tribal tradition, protests have continued against the security forces’ trigger-happy attitude and on the fourth consecutive day Monday, April 18, this time in Nokkundi, demonstrators pelted officials with stones which resulted in FC personnel once again opening indiscriminate fire to ward off the crowd.
According to details at least eight persons were injured in the incident and shifted to a rural healthcare centre for immediate treatment.