When I sat in front of the computer and decided to write this piece about the Baloch missing persons I remembered some valiant Baloch who marched more than 2,000 kilometers on foot from Quetta to Islamabad last year for the recovery of their missing relatives who had disappeared in Balochistan allegedly at the hands of intelligence agencies of Pakistan. The marchers were not only men but also women and children. They were led by Abdul Qadeer, known as Mama Qadeer, under the aegis of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP). Sadly, neither the government nor the media paid any heed to the marchers’ demands.

However, this year Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) scheduled a talk titled “Un-silencing Balochistan” on Baloch missing persons for April 9. The talk was to feature VBMP Chairman Mama Qadeer, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons VBMP General Secretary Farzana Majeed, Baloch rights activist Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Director I A Rehman, Quaid-e-Azam University professor Aasim Sajjad and human right activist Sajjad Changezi. However, it was cancelled on April 8, allegedly under pressure from the intelligence agency of Pakistan.

Sabeen Mahmud, the founder of The Second Floor (F2F) cafe, came forward and hosted a parallel talk on Baloch missing persons in her cafe with Mama Qadeer, Farzana Majeed, Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Wusatullah Khan and Malik Siraj Akbar. Following the talk Sabeen was brutally gunned down, while she was returning to her home.

One can see that voices for Baloch missing persons are not only going unheard but also efforts are being made to prevent the Baloch from raising their voices for the missing persons. Let us not forget that on May 5, 2015, Mama Qadeer, whose cousin has been missing since 2001 and whose son was killed after going missing in 2009; and Farzana Majeed, whose brother has been missing since 2009, were banned from travelling to New York to attend a conference on human rights violations in Balochistan and Sindh so that they wouldn’t raise their voices against violations of human rights in the two provinces of Pakistan.

Furthermore, it is observed that the Baloch who raise their voices for Baloch missing persons, or believe in a separate Baloch homeland, are usually picked up and are wrongly considered to be armed militants or terrorists. Naseeb Ibrahim, brother of my former student (Yousuf Ibrahim), was picked up on 28 April, 2013 because he would always openly accuse the state of depriving Baloch of their rights. His body was dumped in Karachi on May 2, 2013 with torture marks on it.

According to Abdul Qadeer, more than 21,000 Baloch have gone missing, including women, and nearly 2,500 dead bodies have been found in Balochistan and Karachi. Though the Baloch have been knocking every door and making every possible effort for the safe recovery of their missing relatives, the ‘kill and dump’ policy is still being persisted with. Enforced disappearances are piling up at a worrisome pace in Balochistan.

Last week, Imtiaz Hussain Bugti and Kolmir Bugti were abducted from Chaman and Anwar Sahib Khan and his son ‘Waseem Anwar’ were abducted from Pasni, allegedly by intelligence agencies and are now among missing persons.

Little wonder then that all bodies of missing persons being found bearing inhuman torture marks, which means the missing persons are either tortured before death or are tortured to death. Haji Abdul Razzaq Baloch, a subeditor at the Balochi-language newspaper ‘Daily Tawar’ went missing on March 24, 2013 and his tortured mutilated body was found on August 21, 2013. His body bore so many inhuman torture marks that his family had to identify him by his hands, feet and clothes as his face was mutilated beyond recognition. He was said to be brutally tortured to death.

Chakar Baloch, a 10-year-old student of Grade 3, went missing on January 7, 2013 and his tortured body was dumped on January 10, 2013. The body of the deceased showed signs of multiple means of torture.

Sangat Sana, a member of the central committee of the Baloch Republic Party (BRP) and a former chairman of the Baloch Student Organization (BSO-Azad) was abducted in Kolpur in December 28, 2008 and his body was found from Murgab, Kech on February 13, 2012. There were not only marks of severe torture on his body, but also 30 wounds of bullet on his chest and head.

Here the question arises what is the crime of the Baloch who are being abducted and then brutally tortured? If they have committed any crime they ought to be produced in the court and charged and punished officially. This will at least satisfy the relatives of missing persons.