August 10, 2023

By Dauran Baloch


Civil society activists gathered on Wednesday in Balochistan’s Kech city, and staged a rally of silence, to denounce the killing of school teacher Abdul Rauf Barkat on an accusation of alleged blasphemy.

Barkat, 22, was a teacher in a private educational institution in Turbat, and was accused of blasphemy by his students leading to his fatal shooting on August 5 in Turbat. The slain school teacher had recently taken a Law admission test and was aspiring to be a lawyer, say his close friends.

The incident has ignited a series of protests across various cities in the province, where activists have urged that there be swift justice and an end to such state-supported violence.

Turbat Police have taken action by registering a First Information Report (FIR) and initiating an investigation into the incident.

What has set the incident apart is that Balochistan, while not immune to religious extremism, has typically remained shielded from rampant killings that arise from blasphemy accusations in other parts of Pakistan.

In response to Barkat’s killing, civil society in Kech along with the Baloch Solidarity/Yekjehtee Committee held a peaceful silent rally demanding the immediate arrest and prosecution of the individuals responsible. They also expressed concern about the rise of state-supported death squads that have been targeting educated Baloch youth, exploiting religious sentiments to justify their actions.

One of the central demands that has been voiced during these protests has been for the eradication of the jirga system in Balochistan.This traditional form of dispute resolution, while rooted in local customs, has come under scrutiny for sometimes undermining the formal legal process and compromising individual rights. The protestors advocated for a modernized and just legal system that safeguards the rights and lives of all citizens.


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