QUETTA - As millions of Muslims were celebrating Eid in Pakistan and other parts of the world on Monday, hundreds of relatives of missing persons in Balochistan rallied on the streets of the provincial capital to protest against ‘enforced disappearances’ of their loved ones.

Chanting slogans against the state functionaries, the protesting relatives of the missing persons including women and children marched through different roads of the city and later staged a demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club.

They were holding portraits of their missing loved ones and placards inscribed with various demands such as “Stop forced disappearances and recover all missing persons”. They alleged that their relatives were whisked away by the state security forces and intelligence agencies from different parts of restive Balochistan province.

The state agencies deny the allegations and allege the nationalists of playing in the foreign hands and inciting violence in the province. They say they are working within their limits to counter the anti-state elements and guarding the motherland from outside threats.

“The sole purpose of the rally is to draw the attention of the world community towards tragic state of affairs in the province” said Mama Qadir Baloch, vice president of Voice For Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) and father of Jalil Reki, whose bullet-riddled body was found dumped in a desolated area of Kech district last year.

“This is not the first Eid that we are celebrating at a hunger strike camp with anguish and pain rather we have been celebrating Eids for the past four years (in this way) on this religious festival to register our protest against disappearance of thousands of Baloch youth, who were picked up by state’s secret agencies,” Qadir said.

“How can we celebrate Eid when our sons and brothers are abducted, tortured and later their decomposed bodies are thrown away. There not a single home in Balochistan from where at least one inhabitant has not been not killed, tortured or abducted by security forces and intelligence agencies. There is mourning in every house and the pain of missing persons become more critical for families when people around them celebrate Eid or other festivals,” VBMP leader said.

According to VBMP, an organisation formed by the relatives of missing persons which is struggling for the safe and early recovery of missing persons, more than 15,000 Baloch people were missing throughout the Balochistan since 2006 when a military operation was carried out in Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts in which Balochistan’s veteran nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed along with his dozens of companions.

“More than 500 hundred bullet-riddled bodies have been found dumped in various desolated areas of Balochistan since June, 2010, while some dead bodies were badly decomposed which could not be recognised”, Qadir said, adding that over 400 hundred Baloch professionals, including doctors, lawyers, professors, writers and poets were targeted killed.

“We have been appealing the Untied Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and other humanitarian organisations for taking notice of the genocide of Baloch nation that is being carried out by state agencies and play their role in recovery of thousands of missing Baloch youth”, the nationalist leader said.

The aged mother of Wahab Baloch, whose son was allegedly picked by state functionaries from Kech district about one-and-half year back, also participated in the rally despite it being held over a 1,000 kilometres away from her home. “I have been protesting for recovery of my son by participating in the hunger strike camp outside the Press Club but to no avail. A mother can’t even think of celebrating Eid when her son is languishing in torture cells”, she said.

Surprisingly, no news channel bothered to move its DSNGs to give a live coverage to the rally of missing persons despite the fact that their offices were very close to the site where the rally was carried out.

“Neither electronic nor print media gives appropriate coverage to our peaceful rallies and the issue of missing persons. The channels and national media have enough time for worthless programs but hardly gives space to Balochistan issues, particularly the issue of missing persons,” Qadir complained.