BNP student activist reappears after 6 months in 'torture cell' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

BNP student activist reappears after 6 months in ‘torture cell’

QUETTA: A young Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) activist resurfaced here on Friday after presumably languishing in intelligence agencies’ ‘torture cells’ for six months.

Plainclothes intelligence and Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) personnel picked up Babu Sumalani, a 28-year-old University of Balochistan graduate student, on September 22, last year.

On Friday, addressing a press conference at the Quetta Press Club, Sumalani claimed he had been taken into custody by an intelligence agency and the ATF from Smungli Road, Quetta. He said he had been blindfolded, shoved into a vehicle and taken to a ‘torture cell’.

Indescribable: He told reporters he had found a large number of political activists, students, professionals, the elderly, women and children in the torture cells, and spoke of indescribable torture being inflicted. “They used to beat us so much that it is beyond description. Most of us were apparently victimised because of our political views. I saw with my own eyes several Baloch old women, elderly citizens and children being put into these torture cells,” he told reporters.

The student leader also disclosed that Javid Lehri, a missing journalist from Khuzdar, was in the ATF jail, and was continuously being put through “inhumane mental and physical torture”.

He cited “security reasons” for not clearly answering many questions concerning his detention and the nature of torture that he had endured and that was being inflicted there. Sumalani said the Baloch were being persecuted for standing up for their due rights. “We are being punished because we Baloch talk of our right of ownership on our coast and resources.” But, he warned, “this tactic applied by the state to deal with the Baloch dissent is likely to backfire.”

Sumalani, who hails from a generation of Baloch youth that has vocally opposed President Pervez Musharraf’s policies in Balochistan, thanked the Baloch Women’s Panel, other human rights groups and columnist Fatima Bhutto for their “unlimited support” while he was detained, and credited them for his release.

Around 4,000 Baloch people from all walks of life are currently in the custody of intelligence agencies, according to BNP Secretary General Habib Jalib, who accompanied Sumalani at the press conference.

“Even the courts of the land have failed to deliver justice to the victims and their families,” said Jalib. “The courts seem to be totally helpless in front of the intelligence agencies. The unchecked practice of illegal detentions is rapidly increasing in Balochistan, with too little intervention by international human rights organisations.”
Source: Daily Times
Date:3/1/2008