Media ignored military operation in Kech district, says BSO-Azad leader -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media ignored military operation in Kech district, says BSO-Azad leader

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Activists of the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Monday demanding the media’s attention towards ongoing operation in the Tump and Gomazai areas of Kech district.

The press conference was held by an all-women group led by the BSO senior vice chairperson, Kareema Baloch. “The military operation which began on Sunday failed to find space in the vernacular and mainstream press,” she said.

Reading from a handout, she said the operation in Gomazai began during the day and continued till late evening. “The military surrounded the Tump, Gomazai and Mund areas and within half an hour all homes in the area were destroyed by shelling from helicopters. People ran towards the date palm gardens around their homes for cover but were killed by mortar shells that were thrown by the law enforcement agencies,” she alleged.

Giving the names of the people who were allegedly killed in the shelling and bombardment, she said some of the names had not yet been confirmed.

“Those whose names have been confirmed include Abdul Salam, Siddiq, Iqbal, Saifullah, and Zikriya. Two children, 10 and eight years old, were among the dead. Also, more than eight homes, two shops and one medical store were destroyed as a result of bombardment that killed dozens,” she said.

She gave a list of names which included siblings, sons and brothers of those killed “during the ambush”. It included the names of Naseer, son of Guhram Baloch, whose two kids, she alleged, “were abducted by the forces”.

“The house of the Baloch Human Rights Organisation’s chairperson, Bibi Gul Baloch, was also bombarded, and from what we know the operation is still going on,” she added.

Speaking about the history of operations in Balochistan, Kareema said that “such operations have become a daily routine in Balochistan. The army selects an area or a district which is followed by bombardments and mortar shelling. The homes are destroyed and young men from the families are taken away.”

About the stance of law enforcement agencies after operations, she said, “The Frontier Corps and Inter Services Public Relations have a similar statement which says that those who got killed belonged to a terrorist organisation. We invite you to visit Kech district and see for yourself whether those who were killed were terrorists or innocent civilians. We leave it to you to decide,” she said.

From there onwards she spoke about the rise of an extremist organisation in Panjgur which she said was against the education of women. She alleged that extremism and sectarianism in Balochistan was “supported by the state-owned groups involved in killing on the directives of the intelligence agencies”.

She said that it was visible in Makran “where the state is trying to separate the Baloch as Zikri and religious.” She referred to a recent incident in which praying Zikris were fired at inside a praying area in Awaran.

Linking religious extremism to the closure of schools in Panjgur, she said that “elements inciting such incidents are the same. They are trying to divide the various religious sects within the province to justify the bombardment and killing”.

As the press conference ended, the BSO leader asked the media persons to ask questions but the main hall at the press club remained silent for over a minute and then everyone scurried out one by one. The activists then went out to stage a protest against the closure of schools in Panjgur.

DAWN