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Mass graves discovery gives a new twist to the issue of Baloch missing persons

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Discovery of three mass graves in Khuzdar has given a new twist to the issue   of the missing persons in Pakistan's Balochistan province. The Deputy Commissioner of   Khuzdar Abdul Waheed Shah on Tuesday confirmed the discovery of the three mass graves.

The DC, in a report to the Supreme Court, said that a shepherd from Tootak area had approached his office on Jan 17 to inform that he had seen vultures and crows hovering over some bodies lying under heaps of stone and mud in the remote area of Mazzi. The DC went to the area and dug two marked spots. Two bodies were found in one grave while 11 were found in two other graves.

Two bodies -- of Qadir Bakhsh and Naseer Ahmed of Peer Andar -- were identified and handed over to their heirs.   The DC report did not say if the two were on the list of mission persons.

However, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in total 103 bodies were recovered from the graves. The bodies were too decomposed to be identified. From the three mass graves 17, 8 and 78 bodies were found but the local people say that a total of 169 bodies have been found.

Chairman, Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, Naseerullah Baloch told a press conference on Friday that around 100 bodies have been recovered from the mass graves in Khuzdar and among them three person have been identified as missing persons.

He said gunfire was opened when the heirs tried to reach the mass graves. He also said that the access of media and human rights bodies have been denied to these graves.

Naseerullah Baloch claimed the mass graves were also uncovered in Pishin and Panjgor. He also claimed existence of torture cell of local security unit close to these graves. He said "we moved the issue in the Supreme Court but the Balochistan govt and the lawyers of the secret agencies are causing unnecessary delays to these cases and presenting wrong facts and figures in the apex court. "

Tellingly, in October last year President Mamnoon Hussain issued the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 which allows an army officer to enter and search any premises, make any arrest, take possession of any property without a warrant. The law also permits law enforcement agencies to lock up any person and a court cannot question their detention. The PPO is currently pending in the National Assembly.

Long March for Missing Persons

Meanwhile, families of Baloch missing persons continue their Long   March in a desperate bid to draw attention to their plight.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Person (VBMP) organized the march, which started in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan on October 27 and ended in Karachi where the marchers demonstrated in front of the Karachi Press Club on November 23. In the first phase of the march the families covered 730 km on foot.   The second phase from Karachi to Islamabad began in mid-December and reached Multan this week. The second phase will cover 1,200 kilometers.

Tellingly, Pakistani 'independent' media has virtually ignored the long march.

The Vice Chairman of VBMP, Qadeer Baloch says: "There are some people who are concerned by the awareness this long march can bring and have started to bully the families of the long marchers back in Quetta." He added, "The houses of several people of those who have openly shown support for the long march have been raided."

Among the marchers is the seven-year-old son of Jalil Reki, who was according to the marchers "extra-judicially executed after a year of his disappearance in an ISI torture cell."

Others include Nasrullah Baloch, whose uncle has been missing for 11 years, Mama Qadeer Baloch, whose cousin has been missing since 2001 and whose son was killed during his detention, and Farzana Majeed, whose brother Zakir Majeed Baloch has been missing since 2009 after his arrest by the Frontier Corp (FC) paramilitary force.

Dr Din Muhammad has been missing for the last four years and his daughter Subha Baloch is taking part in the long march.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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