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Since Partition, Mumbai has a piece of Balochistan, Comprising of 150 Families and famous ‘Khatti Dal’

Visits by any member of the community living across the globe, to their ancestral home in Karachi, still generates nostalgia

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Human Rights Violations, Azghar Baloch
World Baloch Organisation Activist Azghar Baloch brings Human Rights Violations to the notice of International Community, Wikimedia
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Mumbai, November 8, 2016: Bhagnaris are one of the many communities that have made Mumbai their home over time and their presence in this city is dated back to the Partition. Comprising around 150 families that have settled down in Kataria Colony of Shivaji Park. The community of the Bhagnaris originate from Balochistan and got displaced at the time of the Partition and they are often lazily mistaken with the Sindhis.

Ramesh Poplay, the 64 year old Vice President of the ‘Shree Bhagnari Panchayat’, says, “Kataria colony is named after Takandas Kataria, who built the colony in 1961 and was instrumental in helping the community settle in Mumbai.”

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According to The Indian Express, a member of the community Hari Nasta says, the community was originally the inhabitants of the twin villages named ‘Bhag’ and ‘Nar’ in the southern zone of Balochistan. With trade and business activities as major involvements, in a Muslim dominated region of those plains, a lot of people sought to migration to other regions including Sindh and Punjab, looking for better opportunities.

Many of the community eventually settled in the port city of Karachi about a century before the Partition. According to reports, Poplay said, “Among the ones who migrated after Partition, many community members came to Mumbai.” The first record of the Panchayat of the community dates back to 1930.

Presently headed by the President Lachu Gehi, the Panchayat of the Bhagnar community works for the betterment of the members, matrimonial activities and is also strongly active on bringing the community together. As per reports from The Indian Express, Poplay further informs that the language spoken by the community is ‘Saraiki’ which is a common dialect in Pakistan.

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Poplay says that the language is spoken by the elder members of the community. “Youngsters can understand it but they mostly do not speak it. We are making attempts to retain it in our youth. We have put up a dictionary on our website with common words and usage with an English translation. We also recently launched a mobile App called the Bhagnari dictionary. The language does not have a script and can be written in Arabic or Devanagri.”

Many of the youngsters of the community, like Rishika who works as a teacher, have recently put together a new project. “While we love the food cooked by our elders, not many of us know how to make it. I had drawn up a list of members of the community who made the best of our signature dishes and recorded the process for a cookbook,” says Rishika to The Indian Express. The book is available on their official website and it offers recipes for 44 dishes that include the famous ‘Khatti Dal’, that is claimed by the members to be a unique offering by the community.

According to reports from The Indian Express, Poplay further states that visits by any member of the community living across the globe, to their ancestral home in Karachi, still generates nostalgia. “We know of localities including Bhagnaripada, Mithadar and Kharadar, where our community members lived in the past. Much of it has changed since then and we are told the areas have been converted into commercial spaces,” Poplay was quoted as saying to The Indian Express.

-prepared by the NewsGram team.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers.
The President also called for more mental institutions and hospitals in addition to the idea of arming teachers. Wikimedia Commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.