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Fight to counter oppressive Pakistani regime: Baloch Nationalist Movement Leaders feel encouraged by PM Modi’s words

The Baloch nationalist leaders are of the opinion that Pakistan wishes to destruct the peace and stability of the region

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Map of Pakistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • Baloch Nationalist Movement leaders are of the opinion that Pakistan wishes to destruct the peace and stability of the region
  • Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baloch Republican Party thanked Modi for his statement on Balochistan
  • Bugti has high hopes from India and feels that the nation will come to its aid when Balochistan is in need

New Delhi, August 16, 2016: After Prime Minister Modi gave speech on India’s 70th Independence Day on August 15, and mentioned about the atrocities faced by the people of Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (Pok); leaders of the Baloch Nationalist Movement felt encouraged and overwhelmed by his speech and is likely to look for support from India, the US and the European nations against the oppressive Pakistani regime.

The Baloch nationalist leaders are of the opinion that Pakistan wishes to destruct the peace and stability of the region as they are being hypocritical when they demand Kashmir as their own, while at the same time, crushing the same demand of the people in Balochistan by force.

PM Modi addressing the nation on Independence Day, Wikimedia Commons
PM Modi addressing the nation on Independence Day, Wikimedia Commons

According to PTI, Khalil Baloch, chairman of the Baloch National Movement said, “The world must understand that Pakistan’s use of religious terrorism as a policy tool will have far-reaching consequences; terrorism cannot be contained but needs to be countered effectively. Baloch nation hopes that the United States and Europe will join Prime Minister Modi and hold Pakistan accountable for the crimes against humanity and the war crimes it has committed against the Baloch nation in 68 years of its occupation of Balochistan and during the five wars that the Baloch nation has fought with Pakistan to win its national freedom.”

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Calling the statement by the Indian Prime Minister on Balochistan, a positive development, he said that the “policy of indifference towards Pakistan’s war crimes in occupied Balochistan that include both ethnic cleansing and genocide, adapted by the international community is worrying.”

Also, Brahumdagh Bugti, president of the Baloch Republican Party has thanked Modi for his statement on Balochistan and hopes that the entire Indian nation would raise its voice for the Baloch nation and help them in the Baloch independence movement. Bugti is the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a Baloch nationalist leader who was killed in an encounter with the Pakistani army.

He also told a leading news portal that he would also like Indian cinema to make a movie on the Baloch struggle and that he would like Amitabh Bachchan to play the character of his grandfather.

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“In this context, raising the voice of the Baloch people should not be a temporary reaction or short term strategy by the Indian government, but should be a sincere intention of the Indian people to support their oppressed Baloch brothers and sisters and should be very serious part of the foreign policy of the Indian government,” added Bugti.

He said that the actions of Pakistan on the beautiful land of Kashmir and its involvement in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Pathankot have been clearly exposed in front of the world.

Bugti has high hopes from India and feels that the nation will do the necessary when Balochistan is in need, said the PTI report. He further added, “the Baloch mission and all the oppressed people of the world, still remember the decision of the Indian government when India intervened and came to the rescue of Bengali people from Pakistani brutalities in 1970s.”

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)