ISLAMABAD: Following the late-night baton charging and detainment of Baloch protesters across several areas of Islamabad, a wave of unified condemnation swept in from human rights organizations, analysts, and political figures, denouncing what was termed as a “violent state crackdown.”
The Islamabad police apprehended numerous Baloch men and women during their protest against enforced disappearances and alleged extrajudicial killings.
Social media circulated videos depicting security forces using water cannons and tear gas on the demonstrators, forcibly dragging them into police vehicles, and subjecting them to physical assault with clubs.
Additionally, the police dismantled camps and loudspeakers set up by the protesters outside the National Press Club.
The Baloch women, leading a long march from Turbat since December 6 in response to the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Baloch youth by Counter-Terrorism Department officials, arrived in the federal capital on Wednesday.
However, the police obstructed their entry into the city and major roads, impeding their progress towards the National Press Club.
Initially, Jinnah Avenue and other routes were blocked by the police, causing extensive traffic congestion on Srinagar Highway, a key route in the federal capital.
An Islamabad police spokesperson, in a late-night statement, mentioned the presence of “masked men carrying batons” among the protesters and defended the use of non-lethal measures to prevent access to high-security zones.
The spokesperson claimed a deliberate avoidance of force while alleging that protesters hurled stones at police near Chongi No. 26 and Ayub Chowk, leading to arrests and detentions.
The detained protesters were relocated to various police stations across Islamabad, with women demonstrators taken to the Women Police Station. Notably, Mahrang Baloch, one of the organizers of the long march, was among those taken into custody.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the “violent police crackdown” on Baloch protesters in a social media post, adding to the growing chorus of criticism against the incident.