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Public Safety Act: The real sorrow of Jammu and Kashmir

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By Meghna Nair

Shikara_in_Dal_Lake_in_KashmirA news magazine once spoke about an incident from 2004 when a delegation from European Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy visited Kashmir. The delegation was led by Mr. John Walls Cushnahan and they described Kashmir as one of the “most beautiful prisons in the world.”

This is a sad reality. The civil society of Jammu and Kashmir has always been plagued with incessant problems. On one hand, there is Pakistan, constantly sending infiltrators, claiming that Kashmir belongs to them. On the other hand, there is the Indian Army, along with the Public Safety Act (PSA) and the much debated Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

The PSA is, in fact, one act that has continuously disrupted the harmony of many families and has given them sleepless nights.

The Public Safety Act

Star-of-India-gold-centre.svg

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act is, like AFSPA, a draconian act. This was first introduced in the year 1978 and covers the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir under its ambit and the jurisdiction of the same remains under the state government.

The basic premise of this act is that the security forces can arrest anyone who, according to them is “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.” This law allows the government to arrest and detain people without trial for two years.

Each sub point of the acts “prejudicial to the maintenance of public order” is quite ambiguous and this has been taken into advantage by the state government and the armed forces.

As reported by change.org, the State Government authorities have imprisoned thousands of people over the years under this act. As many as five thousand people were imprisoned in the summer of 2008 alone and approximately 1,332 people were detained between 2009 and 2012.

“The state police and the army work in tandem to enforce this law. Say, if any group is mobilizing people and the police comes to know of it, they will hunt their place down at night and raid them, book them under PSA and then for years these people might rot in prisons somewhere,” Shahnaz Bashir, who teaches Journalism at the Central University of Kashmir, told NewsGram over the phone.

The list of detainees is very long and contains famous cases like that of Masarat Alam, the separatist leader belonging to Hurriyat (who was detained in 2010 and then released earlier this year in March) and is filled with the common civilians as well.

“Majority of the political prisoners of J&K have been arrested under this act. The prisons where such people are kept captive are spread all over the nation. Some people have also been kept on house arrests,” Rahul Jalali, senior journalist and an expert on Kashmir, told NewsGram.

In a report published in Kashmir Information and Research Centre, it was stated that an RTI was filed by a journalism student, Ahsan Shafi demanding the details of political detainees. The response from the state government just mentioned the number of people detained, which was 17, without giving further details.

The fact worth mentioning is that perhaps, this is the most misused law of J&K. Thousands of innocent civilians continue to rot in prison because of this act. More than five thousand were arrested during the uprising of 2008 and again many others were arrested in 2010. Minors below the age of 16 are currently behind the bars. This has been going on since the ‘90s. Many women have fallen into destitution. Some don’t even know if their husbands are dead or alive. The situation is pretty grave,” said Hashim (name changed) a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, while speaking to NewsGram.

Who are political prisoners?

Anyone who is “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order” can be called a political prisoner.

“Political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir are of two categories. Firstly, there are those who are classified as separatists. Separatists can be either violent or nonviolent. Their agenda remains the same- a free Kashmir. Secondly, there are the militants who resort to violence with arms and ammunition,” adds Jalali.

Ironically, reality deconstructs this definition.

“Once, there was a young man who came from Pakistan. He had all the valid papers and everything. He had come over to meet his relative. The moment he arrived, he was arrested by the police and PSA was slapped on him. He has been in custody since years. No one knows about his present whereabouts. The forces wanted to extract some shared information from him and that is why he didn’t even get a trial,” Bashir added.

The security forces can arrest anyone. AFSPA and PSA together have undoubtedly made these forces omnipotent.

A report published by the Daily Mail cited an incident wherein a twelve-year-old was booked by the security forces on charges of sedition in 2012. The boy was arrested on charges of stone pelting and attempt to murder and was also charged with involvement in the violent protests which happened after Eid prayers in Srinagar in August 2012.

“Since the AFSPA and PSA shield the security forces considerably with their ambiguities, they can arrest anyone. People can be arrested on the minor grounds of suspicion. To detain anyone easily, the forces quickly bring them under PSA. Though on paper, it is mentioned that the forces cannot detain anyone for a period longer than 2 years, the fact is, people have been arrested and kept in jails for 8 – 10 years. Majority of these political prisoners are those who protested during 2008 and 2010 uprisings,” Bashir said.

Organizations expressing solidarity with PSA victims

The people who have been worst hit by PSA are the families of the arrested people. The Act give the forces enough power to knock on any person’s door and take away anyone from that house after invoking PSA.

Photo credit: www.prokerala.com
Photo credit: www.prokerala.com

Once arrested, tracing the whereabouts of a person is an impossible task.  The trauma hits the family members who don’t directly approach the court at first. After the arrest is made, generally no one knows what happened to the person.  Most of the times, the person is termed disappeared.

“By the time they (families of the victims) do approach the court, a considerable amount of time has generally elapsed and the authorities change within such time periods. Due to red-tape and communication gaps between successive authorities, they wouldn’t know and won’t help the victims at all. Many such relatives of the victims meet in courts and that’s how they come together. One such organization created by the families of victims is Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP),” says Bashir.

Currently APDP is headed by Parveena Ahanger, whose son was picked up by the forces in early 90s and is missing till date. She has taken the cause of APDP to a global platform in the past years and was also nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

“The fact remains that there aren’t more than 200 militants in Jammu and Kashmir at present. The number of security forces in the state at present is roughly 7 lakhs, whereas the population is a few crores at the most. These are the facts given by the Army. The question is, do we really need these many security personnel?”  asks Bashir.

The authorities justify AFSPA and PSA by saying that these acts are needed for the safety of the civilians of Jammu and Kashmir, as they are in a constant threat owing to the international border and militant elements. However, the suffering of the people under these laws cannot be pushed into a corner.

These cases mentioned could, to an extent, imply a type of turf war between the state and the militants where the innocents suffer, their families despair. Where is the answer, what is the solution, can anything justify it as fair?

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Why not try to solve the problem of KASHMIR by adopting Indian philosophy that asks:
    who is the greatest? Ans: One who is immensely powerful yet harmless. If the people of India along with Kashmir is culturally conditioned to think and believe in that philosophy, the nagging problem will phase out. But that is not possible because those who are to address the problem both in India and in Kashmir are conditioned to imitate Western masters and are trying solve the problem by adopting borrowed methods of the West. It is not working and it will not work.

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Racial Discrimination Faced by North Easterners shows the Dark Side of Modern Society

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as "chinkis" This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

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A group of Manipuri girls in Imphal. wikimedia

– by Gaurav Tyagi

  • The author spent several years in Delhi and sadly witnessed numerous unfortunate incidents in Delhi involving shoddy treatment of Northeast women and girls especially by Jats of urban villages like Katwaria Sarai, Ber Sarai and Munirka.

Northeastern states of India comprises of Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Mizoram. This region is also referred to as the Seven Sisters. The physical characteristics of the inhabitants of these states are different than the Indian people. Due to which they face racial discrimination in other parts of the country.

Northeasterners have oriental looks and are hard-working, friendly people. Matriarchy is practised among many groups in the Northeast. Successive Indian governments neglected this whole region, as a result it has stayed backwards in terms of infrastructure.

Controversial AFSPA

Tourists need special permits from the government authorities to visit many regions of Northeast India. In 1958, the Indian government passed a law, the Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA) that applies to various seven Northeastern states. This grants security forces the power to search properties without a warrant, to arrest people and to use deadly force if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a person is acting against the state.

Army officers have legal immunity for their actions as per AFSPA; there can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceeding against anyone acting under this law. Indian army frequently misuses its power by harassing the residents of Northeast region under the pretext of this draconian law.

Social Exclusion of the Seven Sisters

An activist from Manipur, Irom Chanu Sharmila holds the world record as the longest hunger striker”. Sharmila grew up in Manipur, one of the Seven Sister States in India’s northeast, which has suffered from continuous neglect by the Indian government for decades.

Sharmila’s primary demand to the Indian government has been the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

She started her fast in Malom on 5 November 2000 and vowed not to eat, drink, comb her hair or look in a mirror until AFSPA was repealed. She ended her hunger strike on 9 August 2016 after 16 years of fasting. Sadly, AFSPA is still in force. Ordinary people of Northeast India are tormented by Delhi through its army.

No major industry exists in this region, therefore, the employment prospects for the locals are practically non-existent. Basic infrastructure like roads and electricity supply is not up to the mark in this area. Youngsters from these parts migrate to big cities of India like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore etc. to find jobs.

Assam
Assam Tea is globally known for its quality and taste uniqueness. Wikimedia

Racial Chauvinism

The women of North East are good looking and fashion conscious. Majority of Indian males are sexually frustrated perverts. They harass Northeast women on a daily basis. People from Northeast are racially abused by mainland Indians as “chinkis”, This derogatory term means an individual with slanted eyes.

The same abusive word is also used by the majority of Indians while referring to the Chinese citizens. State of affairs is dreadful in New Delhi, which is the capital city of India. Delhi has many localities known as Urban Villages. These places are just villages in a name. They do not have any farming land.

Owners of houses in these neighborhoods have got tall buildings erected by flouting all building laws, regulations in order to build the maximum number of rooms and put them on rent to earn easy tax-free cash. Northeast migrants to Delhi are overcharged higher rents by these deceitful landlords.

Urban villages, especially in areas around South Delhi are dominated in particular by a community known as ‘Jats’. They own most of the houses in these parts.

The Jat community comprises of male chauvinists of the worst kind on this planet. They earn huge tax-free income every month as rent from Northeasterners and other migrants to Delhi; as a result, most of them don’t do much productive work. They just sit in groups, play cards and drink liquor from morning-night.

All Indian political parties are scared of Jats as they resort to hooliganism to blackmail central as well as state governments in order to get concessions for their community.

These Jat men have made the life of Northeastern women in Delhi a living hell. These Northeastern women cannot go back to their homes in Northeast because they face sexual violence at the hands of Indian army personnel furthermore; there are no job prospects in the region. They are teased, sexually harassed and even raped by these unscrupulous Jat house owners and their family members.

Delhi Police also has plenty of Jat personnel so, these poor, unfortunate Northeast women cannot even complain about their ordeal to the Police.

A few women, who gather the courage to approach police stations to lodge complaints are ridiculed and abused by the Police staff as women of loose character, ‘chinki whores’ etc.

Northeasterners are highly depressed and frustrated due to this daily ordeal. Their culture, language, food habits and norms are all entirely different from the mainland Indians.

Does Unity in Diversity really exist in India?

India prides itself on its so called diversity but these are just plain talks. The real situation on the ground is terrible for all Northeasterners, especially womenfolk.

The citizens of all seven Northeastern states should not tolerate this discrimination anymore. They must pressurize their local politicians to raise this matter seriously with the central government in Delhi alternatively, they could completely boycott their so called political representatives.

“No taxation without representation”, this slogan originated during the 1750’s and 1760’s in U.S.A. It summarized the primary grievance of American colonists in the thirteen colonies against the British Parliament. This ultimately culminated in the successful American Revolution.

No voting without safety & respect

Northeastern citizens across the entire length and breadth of India should unite under the slogan; “No voting without safety & respect.”

Election Commission of India has introduced NOTA (None of the above) on the ballot papers as an option for the voters. It means that the voter does not find any political party’s candidate competent enough, that’s why they exercise the NOTA option by not voting for a candidate of any political party.

If, the ordinary residents of all seven northeastern states unite together and press NOTA during all state assembly as well as Parliamentary elections, then their local politicians, as well as political parties in Delhi, would definitely wake up to their serious grievances and initiate measures to prevent this dastardly treatment meted out to Northeast citizens in India.

FootnoteThis composition is dedicated to three beautiful, kind, compassionate, independent & friendly girls from Northeast India. Suzie, Tanya and Mikii were friends of the author in Delhi during the late 1990’s before we lost contact with each other. These girls were unfortunate victims of numerous atrocities perpetrated on them by Jats.

The writer sincerely hopes that all three of them are presently leading happy, peaceful lives somewhere and women from the Northeast region of India do not face any future trauma in Delhi as well as other cities in India.

– The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.

10 responses to “Racial Discrimination Faced by North Easterners shows the Dark Side of Modern Society”

  1. I think Author is hit hard by a Jat. Foolish Author….hey Author, You will find least jats in rape charge and in girls teasing. Jats can fire a bullet but can’t tease a girl.

    • Reservation Beggar Jats: Your English level shows that you are a Jaahil Jat frequently hit by an inferiority complex. You are one of those foolish jats, who try to learn English by going to a third grade English Coaching institute run by a half literate Jat brother of yours.

      • Chamaar also speakings. I think You forget mirchpur. Chamaar always compare yourself with jats, but you are not jat . I think I am better educated than you.My morality is higher than you shudra chamaar.. I have chamaar friend also, but I never discriminate any one with their caste. But guys like you make me feel that I am jat and I need to kick your ass.

        Reservation is for poors, they can be in any caste. You forgot about yourself Mr. SC, You are begging from last 70 years. BC..go and repair the shoe’s

        • Abaeyy oyee jatt nahii jhaant haii tuu lagtaa haii kii murthaal waaleyy gang rape tunney hii kareyy haii. Terii jaatiio kii tattii nikkall jaattii haiii chammaroo saeyy chudd chudd kaeyy. Bhadwaeyy bhaand Jhaanth kaahey ko itnaa uchaal rahaa haii. Reservation nahii millaa tohh teraeyy peechwaadey maeyy aagg lag gayyi. Jaa Jhaanth Chuttad Singh kaeyy gaon maeyy jaa aurr latrine saaf kaar. Kuaeyy kaeyy mehndaak, jaato kaeyy bhaand, jaat teraaey muuhh maeyy mutthh kaeyy tujhaeyy 2 rupaiye detaaey hongaeyy. Lagtaa haii tuu Jaato kii randii haii tabhii itnaa bhaunkk rahaa haii.

          • main bhi to yahi kah raha hu ..teri bahan hi chut ki jhaant,,Teri bahan daily hamaare khet me chaara lene aati h..Uski godi me mera hi bachha h. Chaare ke badle me teri bahan se kuchh bhi le lo. Ab to teri bahan ko randi bana diya h 10-10 rs. me deti h. Ambedkar ki kasam 80% chamaari jats ki rakhel rahti h..Apni maa se puchh le, kaun jat uska yaar thha

        • Tu o pakka chamar ki aulaad hai. Chamarron jaise gali galoouch tere khoon me hai. Pata kar le kisi chamar ne to nahi paida kiya tujhe. Jaat to nahi hai tu choora

          • tu hoga chamaar ki aulad..Ye dekh start kisne kiya h. mera first comment ish post ke upar thha. This post is showing wrong thing about Jats. Jats se sab jalte h. Tumhari aukat bhi chamaaro wali hi h haryana me..You all feel jealous to see the status of jats in haryana. Tu pakka chamaar ka beez h jo ish chamaar ka saath de raha h..Sahi naam laga apna post par

            pahle chhedenge nahi phir chhodenge nahi..Yahi jat ka rule h

    • Considering your extremely low English level, you have to buy an English dictionary in order to comprehend these 2 articles. Now, that your misconceptions about Jats have been removed. Shut up your filthy mouth, you proverbial frog in the well. This author has travelled to more countries in the world than you or your Jaahil Khandaan must have seen cities in India. It seems that you like to swallow the ‘cum’ of all filthy jats in the town, who shoot their semen down your dirty mouth. Go and indulge in your gay games. Get lost you bloody illiterate bastard.

      • Guys like you wash my car.Are you victim of murthal rape case? Author travel more countries than me but he doesn’t not know about his country..Dogs like you can bark only here not in front of jats. Did you rape by any jat. Come in front of me BC ..I will show you who are jat. Jats are not frog they are spread all over world.But guys like you are mouse who always underground when you see jats are coming . I think you are from maali Raj Kumar saini brigade. Don’t bark here if you have any problem with jats then come in front of me.

  2. Kyaa kahh rahaa haii baeyy tu.. Teri bahen, biwi, ma aurr beti kii chutto maeyy suwarr kaeyy laudaeyy. Terii Bahen Pamela Singh, Jaatni, India kii pehlii International raand thii jiskaa bhonsdaa England kaeyy bhuddoo naeeyy phadd phadd kaeyy kuwaa banaa diyaa thaa. Terii Biwi, ammaa aurr beti Chamaaro kaeyy laudaeyy chuustii haii aurr Chuttad chaataii kartii haii. Aa jaa Deoba Punjab maeyy, Dikhaa taeyy haii tujhaeey bahen kaeyy laudaeyy Jhaant kii hum Chamar kaiseey tumarri Jaatnio ko kutiyaa banna banna kaeyy chodtaeyy haii. Aurr Tuu tohh mera hii paidaa kiiyaa huaa ek bastard haii, jab terii maa kaeyy uppar hum 10 Chammar chaddey thaeyy. Jaatnio saeyy tohh free maeyy kuchh bhii laeyy lo kyunkii tumm Jat sirf bakchodd ho, laudaeyy tohh tumaharrey khaddey hottaeyy nahii. Terii tohh kaumm kii harr Jaatnii randi haii, free maeyy chuddtii haii. Teraeyy Chuttad Singh neta jiskaeyy laundaeyy kii politics maeyy maa, bahen aur betii sabb chudd chukkii haii ki Kasamm harr jaatnii ek ranndd haii. Apnii maa saeyy tuu pucchh kii 10 Chammaro naeyy ussaeyy jab choddaa thaa unmaeyy saeyy kiss Chamar kii aulad haii tuu bhadwaeyy.

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Srinagar: Restrictions on Muharram Processions to Avoid Separatist Violence

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Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests.
Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests. ians

Srinagar, Sep 29: Authorities imposed restrictions on Muharram processions in parts of Srinagar on Friday, to prevent any violence in the valley. Starting from the Guru Bazar locality, the Shia procession would end at the Dalgate area.

After separatist violence started in Kashmir, authorities have not allowed the procession since 1990.

Police and paramilitary, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in full riot gear were deployed in the suspected areas to put restrictions on Muharram processions.The pedestrian and vehicular movement was also suspended.

Life in other areas of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley, however, remained normal. (IANS)

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69 Years a Slave? Balochistan’s Struggle for Freedom : A Detailed Report

Baloch nationalists assert that theirs is a freedom struggle; they were occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and have been fighting since to free themselves.

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Balochistan
Baloch people address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Wikimedia
  • Even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, Balochistan refuses to associate itself as a part of the country
  • Pakistan’s military occupation of Balochistan began in 1948 before which the province had existed as an independent state
  • The insurgency in Balochistan traces its roots in ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion

Balochistan, August 31, 2017 : Located in the South West of Pakistan, the Balochistan province of Pakistan constitutes nearly 45 per cent of the country’s territory. However, even after 70 years of Pakistan’s creation, the people of the province refuse to associate themselves with Pakistan or its framework of a nation state. They believe they have been Balochis for over three thousand years, who have now been invaded.

“It is freedom struggle,” believes activist Naela Quadri Baloch like many other Baloch nationalists. According to her, Balochistan had been occupied by Pakistan in 1948 and “ever since we have been fighting against Pakistan to free ourselves”, she believes.

In 2016 during an interview with The Times of India, the women’s leader and activist Naela Quadri Baloch had asserted that Pakistan is not interested in Kashmiris but specifically in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir for its desire to control the Indus river system. Similarly, it is also not interested in the Balochis, but the land of the state for its strategic location and mineral reserves.

Baloch nationalists assert that Pakistan’s economy is dependent on loans from the IMF, World Bank and the Western countries that are allegedly taken on the pretext of Balochistan’s rich mineral resources. They further claim that Pakistan’s strategic importance is also due to Balochistan coast. Pakistan would not be able to survive, which is why it does not want Balochistan to emerge as an independent state.

Balochistan
Balochistan comprises of about 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory. Wikimedia

While the world views it as an insurgency movement, Balochis address their protests as a freedom struggle to liberate and unify their people and land from control of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

They maintain that Balochistan was never a part of India or Pakistan and it had always been an independent country.

Balochistan At The Time Of Partition

Balochistan comprises of four erstwhile princely states – Kalat, Kharan, Lasbela and Makran, that had been unified by Naseer Khan, the Khan of Kalat.

During the British rule, the province was divided into British Balochistan (25 per cent) and Native Balochistan, occupying 75 per cent of the total territory with people pledging adherence to Naseer Khan.

Immediately following partition and the creation of Pakistan, Khan’s descendant, Mir Ahmed Yaar Khan was faced with three options – independence, or accession to either India or Pakistan. He decided upon independence, following which a communiqué was released on August 11, 1947 giving independent sovereign status to Kalat.

However, by October 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat did not agree to the accession which was followed by a standstill between the two leaders upon the status of present-day Balochistan.

Becoming A Part Of Pakistan

By April 1948, the Pakistan army moved into the province and captured Kalat. The Khans’ attempts of an armed campaign against the Pakistan army went futile and the province was merged with Pakistan by June 1948.

At the center of Balochistan’s forced accession was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who had previously been hired by the Khans for his legal services to negotiate Kalat’s independent status with the Britishers.

Before partition, Jinnah had successfully mooted an ‘Independent Status’ of Kalat for which he was graciously awarded with gold. But, Balochistan breathed as a free country only from August 1947 to March 1948, after which Jinnah breached trust and betrayed the Khan, forcing the Pakistani invasion and eventual accession of Kalat.

ALSO READ Violence surges yet again in Balochistan

Surprisingly, during the struggle and annexation of present-day Balochistan, the Indian Congressmen, Mahatma Gandhi or the then-Governor General Lord Mountbatten made no attempts to hinder in the remonstration. This indifference can be attributed to the Indian leaders’ failure to realize the strategic implication of a sovereign Balochistan at the time.

A Growing Ethnic Nationalism

Following the formation of Pakistan, distorted power relations existed among different Muslim ethnicities. Additionally, unchallenged power was exercised by Punjabis who comprised of about 56 per cent population of the state.

In 1954, the One Unit scheme was launched by the federal government of Pakistan to merge the four existing provinces of West Pakistan (Khyber-Pakhtunkawa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab) to form a homogeneous, united political entity in an attempt to,

  • Forge national unity on basis of Islam and geography
  • Reduce gross expenditure
  • Help eliminate ethnic prejudices.

The move triggered violence throughout the country and especially in Balochistan, wherein this was interpreted as a strategy to establish Punjabi domination.

Balochistan rose against the move, which came to an end in 1970 with the overthrow of the One Unit scheme.

However, following the rebellion, a strong sense of nationalism, propounding larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan broke a full-fledged insurgency from 1973 to 1977; over 80,000 personnel were deployed to quell the rebellion.    

Armed struggle to achieve separation from Pakistan lasted throughout the 1970s, in which 3,300 army personnel and 5,300 Balochis were killed. However, the Pakistani government successfully compressed the movement.

Economic Alienation

Baloch nationalists have repeatedly argued that they are yet to receive any benefit from the development projects that have been initiated by the government in Balochistan.

  1. Reportedly, the Sui Gas Field in Balochistan caters to most urban households in the country. Despite producing about 45 per cent of gas for Pakistan, the province gets to consume a mere 17 per cent. Additionally, the Balochis get a nominal amount of Pakistani Rupees 6 for a 24-hour supply.
  2. The Pakistani government, in collaboration with China, initiated the development of the Gwadar port in the province, with an aim to better trade ties with Asia, Europe, and US. However, a large number of Punjabis and non-Baloch people were hired for the project, leaving an increasing population of Baloch engineers and technicians unemployed.
  3. Balochistan has one of the world’s richest reserves of copper and gold. However, as much as 16 kgs of gold is seized everyday by the Chinese under an arrangement with the government, which robs the Balochis of major economic benefits.
  4. Despite being one of the country’s key providing areas,
    • 80 per cent population of Balochistan continue to live in the absence of safe drinking water
    • 80 per cent people do not have access to electricity
    • 70 per cent children have never been to school
    • 63 per cent of Balochis live below the poverty line

While ethnic nationalist interests continue to worry Balochistan, a primary demand has also been about better control over the economic resources of the region.

However, the Pakistani government blames the nationalist struggle in the region for impeding the developmental process.

Political Subjugation By Islamabad

Balochistan makes up nearly 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory but the Balochs comprise only 5 per cent of the total population, making them a minority in Pakistan.

Their representation in the National Assembly of Pakistan is also negligible (17 out of 342) which reveals that the Balochis have lost their say in policy formulations and are forced to adhere to laws that have been put in place for them by power honchos sitting in Islamabad.

Additionally, the Pakistan government centered in Islamabad has eradicated most of the Baloch activists and nationalists, calling them ‘foreign agents against the state’. This can be supplemented with the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti who was an ex chief minister of Balochistan.

ALSO READ Akbar Bugti: Remembering the Balochistan Hero on his 11th Martyrdom Anniversary

Pakistan And Its inherent Demand of Balochistan

Ever since the creation of Pakistan, it has been evident that the Pakistan government is more concerned with occupying the physical territory of Balochistan, with meager interest in its indigenous population.

The Pakistan army, on command of the government has employed every possible armory against its own people of Balochistan, in an attempt to contain the province within its seizure. Furthermore, army cantonments have been established at Dera, Gwadar, Bugti and Kohlu to gauge activity and movement of the Baloch people.

Additionally, despite occupying 45 per cent of Pakistan’s territory, the budget allocated to Balochistan is minuscule in comparison to its vast landmass.

In 2002, General Pervez Musharraf had striked a deal with China over the Gwadar port development as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Baloch people condemned the allocation of land to the rich businessmen of Punjab and Karachi and further lamented the unemployment stemming from the project. The move also instigated further violence in the region.

Balochistan
Gwadar port in Balochistan. Wikimedia

As of now, according to report, all 22 districts of Balochistan continue to suffer at the hands of the enduring insurgency with the tally of displaced people now crossing over 2 lacs.

In more recent times, the Pakistan army took aid of suicide bombers to tackle the ongoing insurgency. On August 8, 2017, as many as 54 lawyers became victims of a suicide attack, which is being touted as a State-funded action as the group included several Baloch activists who had been vocal about Pakistan army’s interference in state affairs.

ALSO READ Balochistan Suicide Bombing: Provincial Government Falsely blames India for the Attack

According to a report published in Dawn,prince of the now redundant Kalat state, Prince Mohyuddin Baloch who is now the  Baloch Rabita Ittefaq Tehreek chief,  had said that Balochis are not looking to wage wars. Until now, Balochis have not once attacked Pakistan, but only defended themselves.

He said the objective of their protests has been to draw the government’s attention. However, regretfully, no one is paying any heed to their cries.

Dr. Aasim Sajjad Akhtar had rightly quoted in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly that the “ethnic difference remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics.”

The Balochistan insurgency thus, traces its roots in a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of political and economic exclusion. This animosity among the country will continue unless Pakistan accepts its non-Muslim history.


 

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