PhD Student Zaheer Baloch Released After 5-Day Disappearance

PhD Student Zaheer Baloch Released After 5-Day Disappearance

In the midst of ongoing protests by Baloch activists decrying 'enforced disappearances' and alleged extrajudicial killings by Pakistani forces, Zaheer Baloch, a PhD student, has been released by Islamabad police after a five-day disappearance

Siksha MUpdated: Thursday, December 28, 2023, 01:59 PM IST
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Pakistan: Baloch women dragged on streets of Karachi for demanding release of missing persons | Twitter/Ashraf Baloch

In the midst of ongoing protests by Baloch activists decrying 'enforced disappearances' and alleged extrajudicial killings by Pakistani forces, Zaheer Baloch, a PhD student, has been released by Islamabad police after a five-day disappearance, ANI reported citing The Balochistan Post. Initially arrested during a protest against the Islamabad police's denial of entry to participants in the "Long March Against Baloch Genocide," Zaheer Baloch's whereabouts were initially denied by authorities. However, it was later revealed in the Islamabad High Court that he had been held in Adiala jail.

The Baloch Yakjehti Committee celebrated Zaheer's release on social media but highlighted that 34 other students remain missing. Dr. Mahrang Baloch, a political leader spearheading the protest for the safe release of Baloch missing persons and an end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan, addressed the gathering alongside Zaheer Baloch in Islamabad.

Dr. Mahrang Baloch emphasized that Zaheer Baloch had been illegally detained for five days without a court appearance or the right to legal representation. She clarified that the movement aims to address the concerns of the people of Balochistan and refuted false narratives suggesting a reluctance to negotiate with authorities.

Regarding the harsh conditions in jail, Zaheer Baloch described overcrowded cells with over 45 people, inadequate space for basic activities, and dehumanizing treatment. He recounted being denied contact with lawyers or family, facing false FIRs, and an attempted assault by an investigative officer.

The protests against the federal government's refusal to permit the "Long March Against Baloch Genocide" escalated with the Islamabad police using force, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. The crackdown has drawn condemnation from national and international activists and human rights organizations. Protests have rippled across various cities, and the Baloch Yakjehti Committee organized anti-government protests in Karachi, Lahore, and Bahawalpur.

Mahrang Baloch warned of potential drastic measures if all detainees were not released, making it the protesters' final demand. The Baloch protest march, which began on December 6 in Turbat, aimed at addressing the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Baloch youth, transformed into a sit-in outside the Islamabad National Press Club after facing the crackdown.

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