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Dozens held during Balochistan protest

December 08, 2006

QUETTA, Dec 7: Almost all major shopping and trading centres in the provincial capital’s main market remained open on Thursday despite a strike call given by the Balochistan National Party (Mengal).

However, a BNP spokesman claimed that strike was observed in Baloch areas of the province.

Police did not allow leaders and activists of the National Party to observe a token hunger strike and arrested dozens of workers, including the party’s secretary-general Mir Hasil Bizenjo and MPA Rehmat Baloch in Quetta and Senator Dr Malik Baloch in Gwadar.

The provincial capital’s business community ignored the strike call and plazas, shops, business establishments and bazaars on Jinnah Road, Shahra-i-Iqbal, Mission Road, Zarghoon Road, Mechongy Road and Sirki Road and in Liaquat Bazaar remained open.

However, shops on Sariab Road, Joint Road and Brewery Road and in Hudda area were closed.

BNP-M labour secretary Agha Hasan Baloch said 50 activists of the party had been arrested in Quetta and Khuzdar.

He said the strike was successful in Mastung, Kalat, Khuzdar, Hub, Gwadar and Nushki.

The party observed a ‘black day’ and its supporters hoisted black flags on their homes and vehicles in protest against the visit of President Pervez Musharraf to Quetta.

About two dozen members of the National Party led by Mr Bizenjo went to the token hunger strike camp on Manan Road but police arrested Mir Bizenjo, MPA Rehmat Baloch, Wahid Baloch and 12 other activists.

National Party information secretary Dr Ishaq Baloch told newsmen that more than 100 members of the party had been taken into custody in different areas of the province.

He said Senator Dr Malik Baloch and 10 others had been arrested in Gwadar, former MNAs Dr Yasin Baloch, Shakeel Baloch and others in Turbat, former district nazim Sardar Aslam Bizenjo and 20 others in Khuzdar and Haji Saleh and 30 others in Panjgur.

Police also tried to arrest Leader of the Opposition in the Balochistan Assembly Kachkol Ali Baloch, ex-senator Mir Aslam Buledi and Dr Ishaq Baloch when they were leaving the Quetta Press Club after addressing a press conference. When Kachkol Baloch asked the police to show the arrest warrant or declare on what charge they were being arrested, an officer said the action was being taken under orders from the higher authorities.

During the altercation, the police officer received a mobile phone call and left without making the arrests, saying that there had been a misunderstanding.

Speaking at the press conference, Kachkol Baloch alleged that the federal government had been pursuing anti-Baloch policies for a long time to capture the resources and coastal areas of the Baloch people. He said that the worst action was the barbaric killing of nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

He said Balochistan had been the first province to launch political struggles against military rulers Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and now Gen Musharraf for restoration of democratic order in the country.

He said National Party workers had observed hunger strike in Quetta and other areas of the province in protest against the president’s visit to the provincial capital.

Condemning the arrests of workers of the National Party and the BNP-M, he said giving a call for protest was a constitutional and democratic right of the parties.

He said political workers and the citizens had political and democratic rights guaranteed by the constitution to express resentment against the anti-people policies of the government.

He said the arrests in Quetta, Gwadar, Hub, Dera Murad Jamali and other areas were aimed at harassing people but the coercive actions of the oppressors would not succeed in suppressing the political movement of the Baloch masses.

Activists of the Baloch Students Organisation held a demonstration outside the press club in protest against the president’s visit.

They condemned the ongoing military operation in Balochistan and arrests of Baloch youths and political activists.

The protesters raised slogans against the president and the government.

BSO leaders Zakir Baloch and Salam Sabir Baloch said that the struggle against the usurpers would continue till the Baloch achieved sovereignty and their national rights.

They said that besides, Nawab Akbar Bugti, hundreds of activists had been eliminated in the military operation.

They said that their movement was for freedom of the Baloch from the usurpers who had been looting the resources of Balochistan.

They said that the Baloch would not forgive so-called Baloch who attended the meeting of the military ruler and supported the anti-Baloch development projects.