October 28, 2023
By Xari Jalil
As Fareed Baloch exited the courthouse on Saturday evening there was visible relief among his friends and supporters. The judge had given him judicial remand instead of physical remand and now they were in a position to apply for bail. That was their victory for today! For now, Fareed was shifted to the district jail.
Fareed Baloch is an 8th semester student in BS Education and is doing his Masters programme. He is a member of the Baloch Council of Punjab University, and was abducted from within the PU campus on Friday,October 27th.
Fareed’s wellwishers had been waiting for a day and a night, first trying to trace where he was being held, and then working on getting him released.
In a video that was released on Friday, Fareed Baloch was seen being beaten up and dragged by uniformed police personnel within the university.
The fate of Baloch students remains unchanged in this state. Fareed Baloch, a student at Punjab University, is tortured and forcefully taken away. His resistance against the abductees goes beyond terror.#SaveBalochStudents pic.twitter.com/oIh7570lPw
— Mahrang Baloch (@MahrangBaloch_) October 27, 2023
S* who has withheld his name on condition of anonymity told Voicepk that he was an eyewitness to the entire episode, but there was nothing that he could have done at that time except make a video of the incident to show what happened.
“I saw him enter the gates of the university and I saw one person in civil clothes suddenly grab him,” he says. “At that time I thought it was a friend. But in a minute when three or four others came and tried to push him outside the gate towards a white car it became obvious that this was no joke.”
In the video that surfaced, the scene begins after the men in civilian clothes hand him over to some policemen, says S*. The police officer is almost sitting on top of the university student, while Fareed is shouting in pain. Two or three other policemen enter the frame and drag Fareed outside while he screams for help and tries to hold onto a nearby pole to stop them from taking him. Meanwhile, security officers look on.
Thank God, Fareed Baloch has been produced, he is Garden Town Police Station. The copy of FIR is still not handed over to the students.
But the way he has been abducted and beaten should not be forgotten.#SaveBalochStudents#FreeFareedBaloch pic.twitter.com/YlakP4GBIH
— Qaisar Javed (@QaisarJaved_) October 27, 2023
Hammad Kakar, one of the students who spent the entire night searching for his friend’s whereabouts, told Voicepk that it was not only appalling the way the police tortured the student but also the way the university security did nothing to stop them from doing so.
“Inside the varsity premises it is the security’s responsibility to stop any such thing happening,” he said. “Instead what happens is that the same security is involved in causing extreme grief to the Baloch students. It is not the first time that these incidents have happened with Baloch students, and many times it is our university’s security that points out which students are Baloch just so that the police can target them.”
Kakar says that only two days ago, another Baloch student Ikramullah was picked up from Ichhra by agencies. He was taken away to an unknown place and questioned and then released later at night. The questioning surrounded some monetary transactions via easy paisa to his father who lived in Dubai.
Another of Fareed’s friends said that he was being followed for some time now.
“He was being followed outside the university as well, in Barkat Market and they were all in plainclothes,” informed Wahab Baloch. “He felt uncomfortable so he returned to the university where all this happened. “We contacted Muslim Town and Garden Town police stations. At first they both refused to have them; then Muslim Town PS confessed to have him but soon after changed statements again.”
Wahab also pointed out that the white car that was involved was outside the police station was also seen outside the station.
The police also slapped an FIR which charged Fareed for holding 1300 grams of marijuana on his person.
“In actuality, this is nothing but racial profiling and we as Baloch students know this well,” says Wahab. “Can you imagine their tactics? A beggar standing outside kept asking students if they were going to sit with the Baloch students?”
None of Fareed’s friends say he was involved in any kind of ‘dirty politics’, or rabble-rousing, or anything suspicious. They also held a protest inside the university on Friday night.
“He speaks out for the rights of the Baloch students, yes. but he is otherwise committed to his studies,” says S*.’
Across student groups, concerns were raised over an increase in the abduction of Baloch students. “Students used to believe that Punjab was a safe place to study, but even this has become a no-go area for them,” says Wahab Baloch.
People from the Baloch community and even otherwise have noted the increase in the racial profiling and harassment of Baloch students in different universities. The continuous violence, humiliation, threats, torture, and abduction of Baloch youth on a daily basis, along with disturbing the students in their studies through profiling and threatening, have become a daily routine for Pakistani agencies, they said.
This happened today at Punjab University. No Baloch student is safe. #ReleaseFareedBaloch https://t.co/VuMJqeyjew
— Nida Kirmani (@NidaKirmani) October 27, 2023
The humiliation of Baloch students by intelligence agencies should cause national embarrassment. Have personally seen dozens of students picked up, tortured & released after “confirming” their innocence. Damage to individuals & federation of this draconian policy is irreparable. https://t.co/REYHQ3WjUr
— Ammar Ali Jan (@ammaralijan) October 27, 2023
Despite the students saying that Fareed was not involved in narcotics, the Punjab police has insisted that he was.
پنجاب یونیورسٹی سے بلوچ طالب علم کی گرفتاری کا معاملہ،
براہ مہربانی اسکو صوبائی عصبیت کا رنگ دینے کی کوشش نہ کی جائے،مذکورہ شخص منشیات کے مکروہ دھندے میں ملوث تھا،پولیس نے سادہ کپڑوں میں کئی روز ملزم کی ریکی کی اور بلآخر گرفتار کر لیا، گرفتاری کے وقت ملزم نے مزاحمت کی۔ pic.twitter.com/fAO27Ev2lT
— Lahore Police Official (@Lahorepoliceops) October 28, 2023