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Women, kids being targeted by Pakistan Army to discourage Baloch resistance, say Activists

Army has targeted women and children before but not on this scale. This time women are being especially harrased, abducted and being shot at.

Baloch people. Wikimedia
  • The death toll and abduction cases have risen to over 43 and 185, respectively, as of September 27
  • The fresh crackdown comes after what the activists described as a “bloody August”, which saw at least 67 dead and over 150 reported missing
  • Activists alleged that women and children were targeted in Jalari, Sangan, Garbuk and Kahan in Kohlu and Sibi districts

New Delhi, Sep 28: Rattled by growing resistance across its restive Balochistan province, the Pakistan Army has intensified its crackdown in recent weeks, especially targeting women and children, and leaving several dead and many missing, say Baloch activists.

According to well-informed local sources, the death toll and abduction cases are over 43 and 185, respectively, as of September 27. About 30 of the dead are women and children, activists in Balochistan told IANS in phone conversations, e-mail exchanges and via video conferencing.

The latest case of abductions, the activists said, was on Tuesday evening, when 30 members of a wedding celebration — including the groom — were picked up the Pakistan Army in the Tajabin area of the province’s Kech district.

The fresh crackdown comes after what the activists described as a “bloody August”, which saw at least 67 dead and over 150 reported missing. August is traditionally a month for crackdowns as the Baloch seek to celebrate their own I-Day on August 11, and protest Pakistan’s on August 14.

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The September crackdown, these activists say, appears to be systematically targeting women and children — many of them related to those suspected to be involved in the armed struggle for Baloch freedom. It is being seen as a bid to demoralise the resistance.
“Thirteen women and 17 children are among the dead. One Sah Bibi, 72 years old from Bolan district, has become the first woman in months to be killed in custody. Her body was dumped at the roadside in Kohlu district,” Omar Jan Baloch, a local activist-journalist working underground told IANS.

The activists said 21 Baloch women belonging to the Marri tribe were abducted on September 9 from villages in Kohlu and Bolan districts. Of those, 20 were released with signs of torture. Three women had gone on record and given testimonies, they added.

One of them, Bibi Gul, who was allegedly abducted from Sanjwal village of Bolan district, said in her testimony, a copy of which is with IANS: “At dawn they took me and other women to Mach jail (Bolan). They beat one women to death, tortured some, pulled the teeth of three women and made us watch this. This continued for several days and then released us, asking us to tell everyone what they did to us.”

Bibi Gul was released along with 19 other women on September 21. She added that the army set ablaze the houses and crops in the area.
“Army had been targeting women and children, but not as a strategy or at this scale before. Now they are specially targeting women by either harassing, shooting or abducting them,” Omar said.

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According to Zamuran Baloch, another underground journalist-activist, this is pushing more youth into the armed struggle. All these activists have adopted “pen names” as over 33 journalists have been killed in Balochistan so far.

“They are doing this to develop pressure and scare the young Baloch, but more youth are now gearing themselves to fight back,” Zamuran told IANS.
Activists alleged that women and children were targeted in Jalari, Sangan, Garbuk and Kahan in Kohlu and Sibi districts and operations using gunship helicopters were conducted in Bolan, Kohlu and Dera Bugti.

“Army had abducted all the male members of our tribe and is now targeting us. We have nothing to eat, our children are sick, but army has stopped food and medical supplies in the area,” said a women from Sumalani tribe from a remote region of Bolan in a video message.

According to the activists, on September 9, bodies of three Baloch children, of whom two had gone missing from Quetta on June 25, and a third, the seven-year-old Shahdab Baloch, the brother of poet Sarwar Faraz, who was abducted from the Tasp area of Punjgor, were recovered by locals.

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“The same day, 12 women — Zenna Bugti, Meher Bibi, Patoli Bugti, Mukhi Fareed, Zemmi Marshalla, Khan Bibi, Sammi Bugti, Sadoori, Bakhti Bugti, Noori Bugti, Guddi and Nasreen — were abducted by Pakistani forces during operations in different areas of Dera Bugti like Sui, Shari Darbar, Asreli and Dilbar Mat,” Omar said.

The activists alleged that five women and five children were killed in operations held between September 11 and 13 at the town of Rajanpur and Gyandari in Punjab near Dera Bugti.

“Pakistani forces camped at Gyandari and continued the operation in Rajanpur using helicopters. After the three-day operation, they abducted many women. Those killed include Shabana Bugti, Laalen Bugti, Razia Bugti, Haani Bugti and Shaani Bugti,” Hafsa Baloch, another activist, said.

Activist Banu Hooran Baloch, who spoke of human rights violations in a video message that went viral, said she is now barred from entering Quetta Press Club.

“I am also facing atrocities of the Pakistan Army now. I was attacked before Eid. Army personnel had rented a house next to mine and they consistently follow me and threaten my family regularly,” Hooran told IANS.


Next Story

Maria Wirth’s take on Hinduism: Are Christian and Muslim nations okay and Hindu nations not?

Wirth finds Hindus to be the exemplary role model for ‘how not to exclude others’. Religious minorities have flourished and grown in India, the relative harmony in this amazing diversity in India is what grabs admiration abroad.

Hinduism incorporates oneness with the divine
Maria Wirth. Twitter

April 23, 2017: “Are the Indian mainstream journalists influenced by the foreign correspondents or does it happen the other way around?” Maria Wirth, a Hindu activist raised the question on her BLOG further asking if there is any directive from the top media houses about whom to protect and whom to abuse.

“Obviously, Hindus can be abused”, Wirth says. Recently on the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh or like in the run-up to the general elections in 2014, when a Modi victory loomed largely, the media went berserk.

The gist was, according to Wirth, “By appointing Yogi Adityanath, Prime Minister Modi has finally shown his true face of a Hindu fundamentalist who wants to make India a ‘Hindu nation’ where minorities have no place. The Swiss NZZ came to the conclusion that it is hardly possible for Prime Minister Modi’s government to call itself the representative of all Indians after the appointment of a figure like Yogi Adityanath.”

Why is it that the wrongly called ‘liberal’ media projects a Hindu nation as the worst possible scenario? Yet, the same media fails to react when America or most other western countries are referred to as Christian nations or get agitated about the numerous Muslim nations; not even about those which still choose to continue with their harsh blasphemy laws. The central question that Wirth comes back to is why are these considered ok, and a Hindu nation is not? They don’t come up with suitable explanations; they just instantly assume that will tolerate numerous hardships in a ‘Hindu’ nation.

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According to Maria Wirth, “Maybe they came to this conclusion because minorities like Jews or Hindus suffer in certain Christian or Muslim nations though the media hardly pulls those countries up for it. However, even otherwise, this conclusion is wrong, as Hindus have a different mindset. They are open towards other views, unlike ‘good’ Christians and Muslims who feel obligated to make everyone believe what they believe, if necessary by deceit or force.”

Just like there are too many different ways to reach the goal of life, there are many minorities within Hinduism. Wirth explains how they all are based on the Vedic insight that everything, including our persons, is permeated by the same divine essence which is called by many names but is ultimately one. Our human consciousness (Atman) is one with the cosmic consciousness (Brahman) the goal and fulfilment of life lie in the realisation of this. “Satyam vada, Dharmam Chara” the Veda exhorts to speak the truth and do what is right under any given circumstances. Look for the real you which is not a separate entity but in the depths of your being one with all.

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Wirth also asserts that “From this follows that ‘good’ Hindus are those rare human beings whose dharma makes them regard all others as brothers and sisters. Their dharma makes them further respect nature and not harm unnecessarily any living being.”

Wirth points out that unlike a few other religions, Hindus do not divide humanity into those chosen by God and those who are eternally forsaken. Hindu children are not taught to look down on those who don’t share their religion, unlike children of certain dogmatic religions who are taught that their God does not have affection for others unless they join their ‘true’ religions. Also, Hindus are comparatively kinder to animals. The great bulk of vegetarians worldwide is Hindus.

Hindus never had to fight crusades or jihads to establish their dharma in foreign lands. Yet, for the past thousand years, Hindus were at the receiving end of jihads and conversion campaigns and millions of Hindus were killed in cold blood just for being Hindus. They held on to their tradition and did not succumb to the pressure and even violence brought on them to adopt blind belief that the full truth has been revealed by only one particular person. Instead, they continued trusting their sages who never asked for blind belief but asked to verify their insights through experience.

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Again coming back to the central question, Wirth asks again, why do media worldwide get so obsessed about ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and a possibility of a ‘Hindu nation’. There is nothing wrong with the fundamentals, but there is one major difference: For Hindus, the Divinity can be found in all and all can be found in the Divinity, whereas for Christians and Muslims the Divinity is separate from his creation watching over us from somewhere.

The concept of Divinity is also different. The best description for the absolute truth for Hindus is sat-chit-ananda (it is true, aware and blissful). The belief in the existence of many personal gods helps the devotee to realise the Absolute in his own way. According to Wirth, the perception of divinity in Christians and Muslims in its highest form as a personal, superhuman entity who is ‘jealous of other gods’. She also mentions the first commandment in Christianity and a very important issue in Islam with the claim that nobody must worship other gods except the ‘one true god’, which both religions believe is only with them.

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When the first translations of Vedic texts appeared in the west, the Indian school of thought impressed greatest minds in Europe enormously. It did spread among scientists too and was used to push the frontiers of science further. Modern science discovering that all is one energy after Vedanta became known in the west is hardly just a coincidence as well as the Church losing much of its power in Europe when some of India’s wisdom filtered down to the masses.

Why then are the media worldwide so worked up about a nation where the Hindu roots are fostered?

Where Sanskrit is taught, the most perfect, dignified, powerful language on earth and which is useful even for NASA, where yoga is practised in schools which is an ideal means for all-round development and wellness and which, on a deeper level, helps to find fulfilment in life. Where Vedic philosophy is studied and imbibed which inspired the new scientific discoveries, for example in the field of nuclear physics. Where the amazing wisdom of Mahabharata and Ramayana is the common knowledge which is taught in business seminars abroad and where children are taught to chant “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” (let all be happy).

Yet as soon as Hindus make suggestions for India to keep or rather gain back its Hindu character, there is an outcry by the media that “Hindu fundamentalists” intend to establish a ‘Hindu’ India and exclude religious minorities. Wirth asks, why would Indians who rather recently converted to Islam or Christianity not be proud of the achievements of their ancestors? India was the cradle of civilisation, a knowledge hub and the richest country on earth, known for its wisdom. Hopefully, the religious nazis will not have any objection that students are taught this factor the fact that the Rishis of the Rig-Veda (10.22.14) knew many thousand years before Copernicus that the earth goes around the sun. Surely or that students chant “May all be happy” in Sanskrit, the language of their forefathers.

Why does the media shout at someone who wants to revive their ancient culture instead of someone who objects to this teaching? To quote Maria Wirth, “Is not he the one who tries to divide society and not those who say “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (all is one family) due to their philosophical outlook?”

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Wirth finds Hindus to be the exemplary role model for ‘how not to exclude others’. Religious minorities have flourished and grown in India, the relative harmony in this amazing diversity in India is what grabs admiration abroad. It’s not just Indian food; Media persons need only to look around in the world to realise this there’s much more.

Why is it then that Hindus of all people are accused of excluding others?

According to Wirth, the reason probably is that neither the west nor Muslim countries would like to see a stronger India. They may fear that with the influence on her ancient culture, India may rise again to the top. Wirth asks, “Is it the media’s job to put Hindus perpetually on the defensive by spreading this bogey of Hindu fundamentalism and prevent a better education policy which would give India an edge?”

The infuriated media shout, “Imagine, India would become a Hindu nation!”
Why is it that they don’t have the intention to imagine it or ask basic questions? Maybe, if they could only imagine what a Hindu nation looks like, they might start propagating Hindu nations all over the globe for harmony and peace in the world.

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Wirth concludes by saying that, one day, when people have become tired of blindly trusting strange things, and when nobody is threatened any longer with dire consequences if he stops believing in those strange things, the world may be grateful to Bharat Mata that those eternal, precious insights have been conceived and preserved by her over millennia for the benefit of humanity.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang