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A sister’s quest for missing brother

by Kalbe Ali

ISLAMABAD, April 8: On April 22 Farzana Majeed`s brother she had not seen almost for the last three years would turn 28 as the quest for the missing sibling brings her to Islamabad.

Zakir Majeed went missing from Mastung in June 2008. After desperately looking for the brother in the native town, holding a protest camp in Quetta and a three-month campaign in Karachi, Farzana has come to Islamabad along with 22 other Baloch men, women and children to appear before the Supreme Court on April 13 in the missing persons case.

Encamped outside the National Press Club in Islamabad under the platform of `Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons,` they say around 8,000 people have gone missing from Balochistan in the last five years. However, the Voice has list of 1,300 persons who have not returned home.

“My parents are too old and weak to come and sit in the protest camp,” Farzana told Dawn. But the family back home is hopeful of “receiving happy news about Zakir,” she said. Her expectations of getting justice from the SC are high.

As Farzana and 22 others arrived at Rawalpindi`s Railway Station at 4am on Tuesday, they were whisked away by the men of intelligence agencies. They were taken to a safe house in Islamabad.

“They asked us why we have come to the capital and searched all the baggage,” said Nasrullah Baloch. “Some of the officials kept yelling, telling us to go back to Quetta.”

An old man, who did not want to give his name, termed the attitude of intelligence officials derogatory, adding that they searched the bags of women. But he was also thankful for small mercies. “Nobody was beaten up and they did not claim charges for bringing us from Rawalpindi to Islamabad,” he said.

When contacted the Islamabad police officials denied any role in detaining the Baloch activists for few hours.

The relatives asked the government to `announce` the arrests of the missing persons and file charges against them in courts.

“Zakir was a senior office bearer of Baloch Students Organisation,” Farzana said. “But what`s wrong in that? Arrested earlier, he was cleared of all charges by court.” She said nobody ever told the court that being a member of a social or political group would make one “eligible to be picked by security agencies”.

Highlighting the agony of family of Zarina Marri, who went missing from Kholu in 2006, Nasrullah said: “In a tribal society, they are facing social pressure and embarrassment because their woman has been kidnapped.”

The interior minister on Thursday told Senate that some `imposters`, not Frontier Constabulary, were involved in the kidnappings in Balochistan.

But the family members of the missing persons rejected his claim. “My brother was forced into a van in front of his wife and son when they were coming out of a hospital in Karachi in December 2009,” said Ruksana Baloch, a resident of Kalat.

She said her brother Abdul Ghaffar Langha, father of five daughters and a son, was a farmer and went to Karachi for treatment of his wife.

As the case of the missing persons proceeds in the SC, the family members fear that more bodies would turn up in parts of Balochistan in the days to come. The sister of Sameer Abdul Kareem, who went missing along with his four friends in October last year, said the body of Yasir Baloch with marks of torture was recently recovered.

The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons has announced to hold a protest rally form the Press Club to the Supreme Court building today (Saturday).