LAHORE: Friends and acquaintances of journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch are shocked to learn that he has been missing from Swedish city Uppsala for nearly a month without a trace.
The editorial board of an online magazine, Balochistan Times, of which Hussain was the chief editor, publicly shared the news on Saturday that he had been missing from the Swedish city of Uppsala since March 2 and that a formal case had been filed with the Swedish police on March 3.
“As of today (March 28), there is no clue about his whereabouts and well-being. The police have not shared any progress in the investigations with his family and friends,” read the press statement.
His brother Wajid Baloch told Dawn that they had waited out 14 days thinking that Sajid might have been stuck in quarantine somewhere, but they opted to break the silence after so many days had passed.
Hussain had left the country some eight years ago after receiving death threats.
His wife Shehnaz told Dawn that he had worked on the issue of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, but his report exposing a top drug lord Imam Bheel in 2012 led to some threats. He also sensed being followed, she said. “Then some people broke into his house in Quetta when he was out investigating a story. They took away his laptop and other papers too. After that he left Pakistan in September 2012 and never came back,” said Shehnaz.
Taj Baloch, a friend of Sajid’s in Sweden, said he had met him a day before his disappearance and everything seemed fine. The next day, his phone was off, and he would not return any calls. The last someone had heard from him was when he was in a hostel office, getting the key of his room and he said he would call back.
When they approached the Uppsala police, they were told that people often went into isolation and their privacy could not be broken. However, upon pushing the police and filing a case with Swedish NGO Missing People, a case was registered. Despite that, no evidence has come forth as yet.
The family does not know who is behind the disappearance but has expressed profound concern as to how a journalist could go missing in a country like Sweden that always advocates press freedom. “Still we believe that Swedish authorities will not deny us justice and we will surely be given an answer.”
Previously, Hussain had been desk editor at The News.
Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020