Hayat Baloch, a 23-year-old Pakistani student, was killed in southern Balochistan’s Turbat on August 13, Thursday, allegedly by Frontier Corps personnel. His killing has been widely condemned by human rights groups, including the Human Rights Council of Balochistan and Civil Society Balochistan, and has triggered #JusticeforHayat protests in the region. A final-year student of Karachi University, Hayat was killed after being accused of involvement in a roadside bomb explosion in Absar area of Turbat, in which three security forces personnel were injured on Thursday. He was also reportedly tortured before being shot dead.
Locals claim Hayat was picked up and dragged to a road outside his farm where he was beaten up by the frontier corps personnel. One of them in plainclothes reportedly shot Hayat several times with his service rifle, leading to the student’s death.
Hayat was a final year B.Sc (physiology) student at Karachi University and an aspiring civil services candidate. Faculty and students of Karachi University’s Department of Psychology released a statement, paying their respects to Hayat and calling him a hard working and affectionate student. “He was a passionate young man with eyes on the sky and deeply rooted to its soil,” the statement read.
Hayat’s brother Murad Baloch held the security forces responsible for his death. “He was an innocent boy with no controversial links, yet they dragged him to the road side and beat him up there and then brought him home and killed him in front of my parents,” Murad said.
Officials initially claimed in a statement that Hayat had died in the roadside bomb which was aimed at the frontier convoy. They then changed their stance after protests around his death gained momentum in Turbat city and the Karachi Press Club also condemned his killing.
Noted Islamabad-based human rights activist Ammar Rashid tweeted: “The details of Hayat Baloch’s murder are utterly horrifying. He was working with his father in his date garden in Turbat when FC soldiers, suspecting him of setting off a bomb, stormed in, beat him & tied him up, dragged him to the road and shot him eight times.”
In their statement, the Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB) said that Hayat was involved in student activism on campus and was killed after being tortured by security personnel.
Balochistan has a history of intelligence agencies being involved in the disappearance of hundreds of civilians under the garb of security and law and order. As per estimates, around 30,000 people from the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have been subjected to enforced disappearances in the past ten years.
Noted academic Saeen Taj Jayo recently went missing from Karachi on August 11, moments after he declined to receive the Pride of Performance Award as part of the president’s Honours List for the upcoming Independence Day celebrations on August 14. He had been a known critic of the dubious role played by intelligence agencies in enforced disappearances in Pakistan.