Police unleash teargas, water cannon on Baloch protesters

Published December 22, 2023
The local administration blocked D-Chowk by putting barbed wires to prevent Baloch protesters from entering Red Zone in Islamabad on Thursday. — White Star
The local administration blocked D-Chowk by putting barbed wires to prevent Baloch protesters from entering Red Zone in Islamabad on Thursday. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: Baloch men, women and children, who reached the outskirts of Islamabad on Wednesday, as well as those sitting outside the National Press Club (NPC) since November 26, faced a tough time at the hands of police, which unleashed water cannons and teargas shells to disperse them. The police also rounded up dozens of protesters.

While all the marchers, who came from Balochistan were arrested, some of those who were sitting at NPC tried to march towards Red Zone but they were severely beaten by the police and then were arrested after using tear gas shelling. Afterwards, the police reached the NPC and not only uprooted the camp but also arrested all the family members of the missing Baloch persons.

Student claims houses of Baloch people raided by police for arrest of missing persons’ family members

A Baloch student, studying at a university in Islamabad, told Dawn, said that after hearing that the police had started an operation against the Baloch protesters who came from Balochistan, the protesters outside the NPC decided to march towards the Red Zone.

“However we were stopped halfway. Police used water cannons, and teargas shelling, due to which some of the participants fainted. Some were shifted to Polyclinic, including myself, while others were shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims),” he said.

“When I became conscious I heard the police official saying that we would be shifted to a police station so I decided to escape from the hospital. As I have been residing in Islamabad for quite some time, I am well aware of the hospital so I managed to come out of the hospital using its rear gate,” he said. “Others who were in the Polyclinic and Pims were shifted to a police station,” he said.

After reaching the press club, the police used teargas against the participants of the camp, uprooted the camp and arrested a number of people, including women and children, said another student.

“I have come to know that police raided the houses of the Baloch residents across the city to arrest the relatives of missing persons,” he claimed.

Inspector General Dr Akbar Nasir Khan told reporters that it was ‘not correct’ that women were beaten up by the police during the crackdown.

“Some of the people had tried to enter the Red Zone due to which they were arrested. Those who tried to enter the Red Zone had covered their faces and there were not any women and children among them,” he claimed. He claimed that initially, the police tried not to use force but later it was used for ‘self-defence’.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2023

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