The phenomena of acid throwing has never heard of before 2010 when two incidents after a gap of two months have taken place n Dalbundin and Kalat
Although acid throwing was alien to Baloch society, after penetration of fanaticism and religious extremism some eight such incidents have been recorded for the last few years in different areas of Balochistan inflicting severe injuries to over two dozen women.
Baloch society despite being tribal otherwise is considered liberal and progressive, allowing the women folk to work shoulder to shoulder with their men and to have access to education and opportunities of progress. But since years of Afghan Jihad during General Zia regime, religious extremism started taking its roots under a well though plan in nationalist strongholds.
The phenomena of acid throwing has never been heard before 2010 when two incidents after a gap of two months have taken place in Dalbundin and Kalat. The unknown group with the name of Ghairatmand Baloch had distributed threatening pamphlets in the district, which claimed responsibility for the attacks threw acid on four teenage girls by accusing them of being involved in obscenity under the garb for shopping.
After the incident, the whole family of ill-fated women migrated to Quetta and was never seen again in the town of Dalbundin. Later in 2012 in two different such incidents, some two women had received burn injuries. Some eighteen women have been targeted by throwing acid in one month of July 2014 in Mastung, Quetta and Pishin. However, no one claimed any responsibility for these acid attacks.
The eye witnesses say that the attackers who cover their faces storm into shops or jump of their bikes in front of their victims and throw acid with full pressure syringes on their faces before they disappear with lightening speed.
But the people in general think that the forces of darkness who are having ISIS mind set of forcing minorities for conversion and considering women as usable commodity. Such groups are also behind forced closure of girls educational institutions in Punjgoor and threats to Hindus and Zikries in Kechh to embrace Islam otherwise are liable to be executed.
But the fact of the matter is that the pro-IS slogans on the walls are plastered on the main roads and even in the area close to the red zone and in front of the Iranian Consulate in Quetta, where the security forces and the police are known to be patrolling regularly. There is strict security around this area, with check posts manned by the police force.
If after undergoing some bitter experiences in the past three decades, we still do not take religious extremism and fundamentalism seriously, it means we are not bothered about the country or our future generations,” remarks a senior police official. He, too, believes that all extremist groups are interlinked and extend moral and all kinds of support to each other.
Some political observers argue that in fact the active role of women in ongoing Baloch struggle particularly the campaign for recovery of missing persons perturbed those who are behind missing persons and kill and dump policy in
Obviously it is the failure of law enforcing agencies that not a single person in all incidents except in one case that two the victims nominated the attacker has been arrested. Police in a knee jerk arrested a Christian Vejay Pervaiz Masieh who confessed his crime of acid throwing on two women of his own community over personal feud. The law enforcing agencies like the society does treat this kind of violence against women as normal as they do to other crimes by shelving the cases by nominating unknown perpetrators. Although police officials complain that the victim families due to fear of being harmed again are not ready to cooperate with them, it was the basic
responsibility of the state to track down the culprits involved in any case.
The victims and their families are so terrified that neither they pursue their cases nor they are ready to speak to press. “Why these people made acid attacks as according to our Baloch traditions, we wrapped us in big shawls and even covered our faces and that was why these shawls saved us from severe injuries”, said 35 year old Naz Bibi, the mother of two of four victims of Quetta in an interview. She appealed to perpetrators “they are also our brothers and I can only request that they should not treat women in such a cruel way”.
Women in Balochistan are thus left at the mercy of these ISIS likeminded extremists who can go to all extent to pursue their nefarious designs. The educated youth in fact are ray of hope to fight such trends that are aimed at to push Baloch society towards stone age.
Aurat Foundation appeals to all segments of society to play their due role in checking such trend otherwise, it fears, it will go out of proportion leaving no space for the women in male dominated society where already they are suppressed”, Saima Jawaid, a women activist of AF says.
The women in all those areas where such barbarity against women have been committed still fear to go out for shopping. If they go either are accompanied by their male members of the family or do shopping in large women groups. So much so, the local residents despite having the knowledge or clue about the culprits are unwilling to talk about the incidents or their perpetrators. These areas are dominated by the religious groups particularly sectarian organizations or their outfits as their flags are seen in abundance and their armed activists are visible riding motorcycles and big luxurious vehicles with black tinted papers.
The sick minds behind these attacks want to create terror in society so that Baloch women are confined to their homes and do not go out for education, taking part in political activities and protests and even for anything that threatens to their domination. Unfortunately since the so called Afghan Jihad launched back in 1979, religion has been used as tool to push Baloch youth towards religious extremism in Balochistan and violence like acid throwing or to stop girls to have access to educational activities are the continuity of that policy.
“The purpose of such inhuman act is to keep the women away of social, education, economic and political activities in normal life by creating an atmosphere of fear and terror in which no female even could think of going out of her home despite permission of her parents or spouse.”, Acting President of Balochistan National Party Senator Dr. Jahanzaib Jamaldini opines.
An educated youth who lives in same in Sariab area where six women got burn injuries, claims that he knows at least some five girls all under 15 in his neighbourhood who had acid burn injuries in the same incidents, but their male members had not allowed them to hospitals for treatment. They thought that it will bring a bad name to the families in the locality besides being hounded by the media.
“Like me many people of the area think that since whole Sariab is hostage to state patronized sectarian groups whose involvement in such incidents cannot be ruled out.” Dropping anonymous threatening letters without mentioning the name of any group has become a routine matter. In the letters these groups level stereo typed allegations against women of their areas and warn the local population not to allow their women without spouse or any male member of the family otherwise be burnt with acid
It is big question that why such incidents are taking place in those areas where Baloch insurgents are
present and women, though in small number, are taking part in the ongoing political activities against state, in fact the state agencies are helping religious fanatics in countering Baloch insurgents”, a political worker of a nationalist party opinions.