QUETTA : Thousands of Hazaras have been protesting in freezing temperatures on the western bypass near Quetta alongside the bodies of miners killed in an attack in Machh.
The protest entered its third day on Tuesday. Eleven labourers from the Hazara community were killed and three injured at a coal mine in Balochistan’s Machh, the police said on Sunday. According to the Levies force, the incident took place late Saturday night near Bolan. Bolan Deputy Commissioner Murad Kasi revealed that the labourers lived in Hazara Town. The protesters said that they will not bury the miners till the attackers are arrested. Prime Minister Imran Khan should meet us and personally assure us that security will be provided to us, a protester said.
“We have lost many of our loved ones in bombings and targeted attacks,” said Hameeda Fida, a protester. “We have picked up bodies of our loved ones for far too long but this case is the worst because of the government’s negligence.” The men were attacked and killed at 11pm or 12am between Monday night and Sunday morning but it was reported at 8am. This just shows how little they care about our lives, she added.
“We are out here in the cold because we want justice,” Fida remarked. “The Balochistan CM wouldn’t even be able to sit here for more than five minutes but enough is enough.We want our rights.” Another woman,Baseera, said that the Hazaras just want their right to life. “We have brought our pain and suffering here. Our brothers and fathers have been killed in targeted attacks.”
The government should, at least, assure us that such incidents wouldn’t occur in the future.“Please don’t kill our children,” said another woman. “How long will this continue? I have been sitting here for the safety of my children.” Estimates suggest that over 500 Hazaras have been killed in targeted attacks in the last five years. According to reports at least 22 major attacks from 2003 to 2021 killed 489 innocent people.
Many protesters claimed that Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal or any other representative of the Balochistan Assembly hasn’t come to hold any negotiations with them. Where is our Chief Minister,asked one protester.“Why isn’t he here?” On Tuesday, Liaquat Shahwani, the spokesperson of the Balochistan government, said that the CM is currently in Dubai. “He went there on vacations with his family,” he said.
Shahwani remarked that the CM will return to the country tonight or tomorrow morning because of the urgency of the situation. “It is very unfortunate that the Hazaras are targeted so commonly in our country,” he remarked. “They have been restricted to their neighborhood. They can’t even travel or leave their houses.” The situation is, however, not as bad as it was before, Shahwani claimed.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed also visited the protesters on the instructions of the premier.The minister announced that Rs2.5 million would be given to the families of the victims. The negotiations remained unsuccessful as the Hazaras refused to end their protest. The minister had assured the Hazaras protesting the execution of the coal miners in Balochistan’s Machh that he will share their demands with PM Khan.
“On behalf of the prime minister, I am requesting you, and I expect you not to reject it,bury your martyrs,”the minister told the protesters and assured them that the killers of the Hazara coal miners will be brought to justice.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed called on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad Tuesday to give an update to the premier about his visit to Quetta. Sheikh Rasheed apprised PM Imran Khan regarding his visit to Balochistan capital Quetta and talks with the Hazara community.