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Sehrish awaits justice

By Sohaib Mengal

No one knows the definition of anguish, pain, melancholy and torture better than Sehrish Baloch.

Sehrish, an 18-year-old student, lost almost every member of her family through unnatural deaths within a short span of few years. Her father died in his 40s due to a cardiac arrest. A year or so later, her mother and elder sister had a car accident near Bolan. Her sister died on the spot and her mother was critically injured. She fought a week for her life before dying on a hospital bed in Quetta.

With worst socio-economic indicators in Balochistan, Sehrish still doesn’t hold the state responsible for the death of her father, mother and sister. She still doesn’t think that if there were a hospital in her hometown, better road structure in Bolan or better facilities in Quetta hospital, her father, sister and mother could have been saved.

But there is an abduction, a series of trauma and a brutal murder of which she knows who are the perpetrators. She knows who is behind a murder that vanished her only and last reason to live. She knows who is responsible for the loss that made her forget all earlier bereavements because this was much brutal than earlier ones. Sehrish does not have to search the blood on someone’s hands because she knows who are abductors and killers of her brother, Zubair Sarparah Baloch, 24, who was murdered a little more than a year after the death of their mother and sister.

Sehrish’s brother Zubair Baloch, a young and handsome boy, was a student of Balochistan University where he was doing his master’s in psychology. Like many other students of Balochistan University he too was a member of Baloch Students Organisation-Azad (BSO-A).

A platform in the form of BSO-A made him aware about his legitimate rights. This unfortunate boy had raised voice for his rights and hence committed a grave sin for which he paid a very dear price.

On October 2, 2010, he was on his way to his village to meet his family and Sehrish when he was abducted along with his cousin Asmatullah Baloch who too was a member of BSO-A.

Sehrish knew her ordeal has started once again because no one has returned safely from the hands of those armed to the teeth, plainclothesmen who travel in Corolla cars and double cabin trucks.

Nevertheless, she started participating in protests for the release of her brother, cousin and many others but in the core of her heart she knew it would be of no help.

On November 17, when everyone else was celebrating Eid, Sehrish and her family received an Eid gift in the form of their cousin’s body with an amputated finger and several marks of cigarette burns and electric shocks.

The hapless family had to wait for another 40 more days to receive the body of Zubair Baloch on December 26.

The young Zubair’s body was like a skeleton wearing a skin. It seemed he was never given food to eat. The brutal torturers had tried all of their trick and skill on this young boy. His throat was slashed, an eye was plucked, his nose was broken, his body parts were carved deep with knives and his various bones were broken. There was not even an inch of his body left where there were no marks of brutal torture. He was tortured in the most brutal manner possible.

The killers had tortured to death another student activist for his valid demand of his legitimate rights. Many other students, doctors, intellectuals, engineers and teachers also share the same fate as Zubair. Various activists were killed before and after him.

Sehrish is not the only such sister to cry. Her family is not the only one to curse brutal state machinery.

Thousands of other people are either awaiting the bodies of their loved ones or have their tears dried to mourn bodies. More than 500 activists have been killed since June 2010 and it goes unabated without anyone questioning the unquestionable authority given to the killers.

On June 26, when the world observed the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, designated by the UN to emphasise the importance of the right to personal dignity and security of all individuals around the world, Sehrish wonders whether such days and toothless organisations have anything to do with the Baloch.

She awes whether cruelties perpetrated on her brother’s body fulfil the definition and requirements of torture. She also thinks whether Baloch comes under the definition of “individual” defined by the UN. For Sehrish, June 26 is another day to cry for her father, mother, sister and brother. It is another day to curse her fate to be born as a Baloch in Balochistan. She knows nothing but pain. She expects the champions of human rights to act instead of commemorating particular days. She hopes that instead of issuing reports, these organisations will act one day and eradicate anguish of her and thousands of other girls like her. She hopes one day people like Zubair and Asmat will be released safely and perpetrators will be brought to book. She believes a day will come when she and many others will live a free life in a free state.

Daily Time