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Friends campaign for abducted students’ release as Baloch harassment continues

Friends of two Baloch students of Philosophy at Karachi University, abducted by the security forces, have been campaigning for their release. Doda Elahi and Ghamshad Baloch from Balochistan’s district Kech were picked up from Maskan Chowrangi, Karachi, on Tuesday.

Doda and Ghamshad “have been forcefully detained from their home,” read a poster at Karachi University with the hashtag #ReleaseDodaEllahiandGhamshadBaloch.

Manal Siddiqi, a class fellow of Ghamshad Murid Baloch, tweeted: “Have known this guy for more than two years now. He’s a brilliant student who always scores the highest in the class. Always asks the right questions and talks about philosophy as if his life depends on it. It makes me furious to see how they’re punished for their identity.”

The abducted students’ family are not sure why the security agencies felt the need to pick them up in the middle of the night without any cases known to us. “Doda’s mobile was off. I went to his place to know what was going on and the neighbours told me that the agencies had raided his room the previous night. It came as a shock to me,” a close family member told Balochistan Times.

Ghamshad was with Doda and they were picked up together. One of Ghamshad’s uncles, Muslim Nazar, said that he did not know why he was picked up. “No (government authority) has contacted us so far. We don’t know where he is,” he said.

Karachi police on Thursday refused to cooperate with Baloch activists for the recovery of Doda and Ghamshad, both 22 years old. “The police station of the area from where our children were kidnapped has refused to register an FIR, claiming that they were picked up by the CTD since there are cases against them. If there are cases against the students, why are you (the police) not producing them in court despite a passage of three days? You are blatantly violating your own law,” tweeted Amna Baloch, a prominent Baloch activist, on Thursday.

There has been an increase in the incidents of harassment of students from Balochistan in Karachi and major cities of Punjab. Some analysts link this to the suicide attack carried out by a Baloch woman who killed three Chinese nationals and their local driver in Karachi on April 26 this year. However, a couple of students from Makkoran who study in Islamabad and Lahore told Balochistan Times that they have been targeted for their ethnic background for quite sometime. “We have faced harassment for years. What’s changed is that now, unlike in the past, our stories are getting a little bit of attention on social media,” said the ome who studies at a university in Islamabad. He asked us not to reveal his identity. “The profiling has been there. We feel we are being watched. Sometimes some of us get calls from unknown numbers and threatening voices from the other end tell us to stop campaigning for our missing friends.”

The Baloch student in Lahore said similar things. “You can say we get this feeling that we are unwanted here.” The teachers are generally good to them but the university managements are less cooperative whenever they face harassment at the hands of the intelligence agencies. “A friend of mine, Beebagr Imdad, was abducted from Punjab University. We protested for his release and got beaten up,” he said. It is a university’s responsibility to protect its students on campus, according to him. He said that the Baloch students do not desire preferential treatment but simply want that they too are treated like equal citizens and are not targetted without reason. “Being Baloch is not illegal as far as I know,” he said.

In Karachi, Doda’s friends and family members say they are worried about his health. Medical reports show that he has severe liver and stomach ailments. He was in an ICU at a private hospital just a couple of weeks ago. The doctors advised he must take medication for at least a month.

Muslim Nazar is too worried about his nephew’s safety. “His parents live in Bahrain. Ghamshad also lived there and went to Karachi in 2018 to study. We are just waiting and praying that he is released,” the uncle said.

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