Missing student Zaheer Baloch released by Islamabad police after 5-days of disappearance

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Islamabad [Pakistan], December 28 (ANI): Amid the ongoing protests by Baloch activists against ‘enforced disappearances’ and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani forces, Zaheer Baloch, a PhD student has been released by Islamabad police after a five-day disappearance, reported The Balochistan Post on Thursday.

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Even though he was arrested at a protest against the Islamabad police’s refusal to allow participants in the “Long March Against Baloch Genocide” to enter Islamabad, the authorities first denied knowing where he was.

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However, the authorities revealed in the Islamabad High Court a few days later that he was being kept in Adiala jail. On social media, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee hailed his release, noting that 34 other students are still missing.

Dr Mahrang Baloch, a political leader who is organising the continuing protest for the safe release of Baloch missing persons and the end of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan, spoke to the protest gathering in Islamabad alongside Zaheer Baloch.

“In the past several days, we heard from the Islamabad police that Zaheer Baloch was not in their custody. However, he was detained illegally for five days without being presented in front of a court or allowed the right to a lawyer,” she said, according to The Balochistan Post.

“We launched this movement against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan. Some elements are spreading a false narrative that we don’t want to negotiate with the authorities. That is untrue. We are ready for negotiation, but we will not be defrauded this time,” she added.

She further stated that the movement is for the people of Balochistan and that more people are participating daily. To quell the march, the police and related authorities have resorted to violence and deception, including snatching their loudspeakers in the middle of the night.

Recalling his time in jail, the missing PhD student, Zaheer Baloch described the inhumane conditions there.

He said, “Over 45 people were crammed into one small room. We could not stand, sit, or lie down, let alone sleep. We were dehumanized and an FIR was registered against us as they saw fit, without informing us or any of our friends. We were not allowed to contact our lawyers or our families,” reported The Balochistan Post.

Zaheer alleged that the investigative officer attempted to assault him. He stated that he was escorted to the session court and appealed to the police to allow him to receive legal representation, but he was denied.

Notably, Zaheer Baloch was missing following the protests.

These students were arrested when they gathered to protest the federal government’s and Islamabad Police’s refusal to allow participants in the “Long March Against Baloch Genocide” to enter Islamabad.

The Islamabad police used tear gas, batons and water cannons to suppress the peaceful protests, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of protesters.

Notably, the harsh crackdown in Islamabad has been widely condemned by national and international activists and human rights organisations.

Over the last week, protests erupted in Turbat, Quetta, Khuzdar, Dalbandin, Gwadar, and other cities. Furthermore, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee organised large anti-government protests in Karachi, Lahore, and Bahawalpur.

Meanwhile, Mahrang Baloch, one of the march organisers, demanded the release of all the protesters “or otherwise we will be forced to take hard steps. Our demand is to release all detainees and this is our clear last warning.”

The Baloch protest march was started in Turbat on December 6 after the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Baloch youth by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel and reached the federal capital last week.

However, following their protest, they were met with brutal force and over 200 protestors were taken into custody by the Islamabad police.

Later, to raise their voice against the crackdown, the march led by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee converted into a sit-in outside the Islamabad National Press Club. (ANI)

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