The Balochistan High Court (BHC) on Monday ordered the immediate suspension of four Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel in connection with the alleged extra-judicial killing of a Baloch youth in Kech district’s Turbat.

Over the last couple of weeks, Kech district has been gripped by mass protests following the reported killing of a young man, who was earlier taken into custody by the CTD.

The CTD termed the killing a result of “armed clashes with militants”, adding that three more suspects were killed in the clash on Pasni Road in the north of Kech’s district headquarters, Turbat.

One of the deceased was identified as Balaach. The CTD claimed to have arrested him with five kilogrammes of explosives on November 20. An FIR was registered against him on Nov 21, and he was presented before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on the same day in Turbat. However, on the night between Nov 22 and 23, Balaach’s body was brought to Turbat Teaching Hospital, where his family identified him.

Initially, the CTD, in a brief statement, had said that four insurgents were killed in an intelligence-based operation on Pasni Road. Later in the evening, in a more detailed statement, the CTD explained that based on a tip-off provided to its personnel by Balaach, a CTD team raided a house where insurgents had taken shelter.

During the exchange of fire, three insurgents, including Balaach, who the CTD said was acting as a guide, were killed. The CTD had also claimed that Balaach died as a result of firing from the insurgents.

Soon after, Balaach’s family refuted the CTD’s claims, saying he was forcibly taken away from their home on the night of October 29 and produced before a court almost a month later. They accused the CTD of extrajudicially killing him. Subsequently, the family, along with thousands of residents of Kech, staged a sit-in with Balaach’s body on Turbat city’s main road, demanding an impartial inquiry against CTD officials.

On Nov 25, a sessions judge had directed the station house officer (SHO) of Turbat City police to register an FIR against the CTD regional officer (RO), the investigation officer (IO) and the lock-up officer.

Despite the sessions judge’s directives, an FIR was not registered, and protests continued with Balaach’s body placed on the city’s main square. Subsequently, the provincial government, represented by the prosecutor-general, had approached the BHC on Nov 30, requesting it to overturn the sessions judge’s order. The high court, however, had upheld the sessions judge’s order until further hearings into the matter.

The FIR was finally lodged against the four CTD officials on Saturday.

In a written order issued today for its Nov 30 hearing, the high court said it was informed about the registration of the FIR in compliance with the sessions judge’s order, adding that the legal counsel for Balaach’s father had expressed dissatisfaction about the affair being investigated by a member of the CTD police station.

The BHC ordered that all three cases pertaining to the matter from all parties should instead be transferred to the Crimes Branch Police Quetta, adding that the department’s deputy inspector general of police should appoint an investigation team of senior police officers to probe the FIRs.

The high court further ordered that the order’s copy be sent to the provincial government and police chief to immediately suspend CTD RO Aadil Aamir, CTD IO Abdullah, CTD Station House Officer Abdul Ahad and the CTD lock-up officer for the sake of a “fair investigation”.

The court subsequently disposed of the provincial government’s petition.

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