His online magazine ‘Balochistan Times’ was considered very
highly critical, blunt, Baloch leaders and organisations concerned
STOCKHOLM: Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain, who was living in exile in Sweden and had been missing since March 2, has been found dead, police said on Friday. Police spokesperson Jonas Eronen told a news agency that his body was found on April 23 in the Fyris River outside Uppsala in capital Stockholm. Sajid Hussain, hailing from Balochistan, was working part-time as a professor in Uppsala, about 60 kilometres north of Stockholm, when he went missing on March 2.
He was also the chief editor of the Balochistan Times, an online magazine he had set up, in which he wrote about drug trafficking, forced disappearances and a long-running insurgency. “The autopsy has dispelled some of the suspicion that he was the victim of a crime,” Eronen said adding that while a crime could not be completely ruled out, Hussain’s death could equally have been the result of an accident or a suicide.
“As long as a crime cannot be excluded, there remains the risk that his death is linked to his work as a journalist,” Erik Halkjaer, head of the Swedish branch of Reporters without Borders (RSF), said.
According to the RSF, Hussain was last seen getting onto a train for Uppsala in Stockholm. Hussain came to Sweden in 2017 and secured political asylum in 2019.
The editorial board of Balochistan Times had publicly shared the news that he had been missing from the Swedish city of Uppsala since March 2 and that a formal case had been filed with the Swedish police on March 3.
Taj Baloch, a friend of Hussain’s in Sweden, had met him a day before his disappearance and said everything seemed fine. The next day, his phone was off, and he would not return any calls. The last someone had heard from him was when he was in a hostel office, getting the key of his room and he said he would call back.
The family had expressed profound concern as to how a journalist could go missing in a country like Sweden that always advocates press freedom. Hussain came to Sweden in 2017 and secured political asylum in 2019. According to AFP, the Pakistan foreign ministry declined to comment when asked about Hussain by the news agency.
Faiz Baloch, a journalist based in London, told ANI, “This is a cause of great concern for activists of the Baloch diaspora who are not even safe in countries like Sweden any more. It is also the failure on the part of Swedish authorities as well as the government who granted asylum to the man and then failed to protect him.”
Sajid was vocal in raising atrocities committed against the Baloch people in Pakistan by the country’s army establishment.
Meanwhile, spokesperson of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), Hammal Haider, told ANI, “We are deeply saddened by the demise of prominent Baloch intellectual and writer Sajid Hussain. His death is indeed a loss of a great mind for the people of Balochistan. Due to his straightforwardness, he was loved among all journalistic, literary and political circles.”
He said, “After this incident, we have serious concerns about our members and other Baloch refugees living in the West.”
The BNM spokesperson also said that he believes that Sajid was harmed but “we are waiting for the police’s forensic report to be sure”. SAFEnewsrooms.org tweeted about the incident, “Sajid Husain found in a river in Sweden. He was missing since early March. Reporters Without Borders had suspected ISI behind his abduction. He left Pakistan few years ago due to threats from the military.”
Fareeda Baluch, sister of missing Baloch political activist, Rashid Hussain Baloch tweeted, “Sajid Hussain’s dead body found. It’s sad and terrifying to hear that Baloch activists are not secure even in foreign countries. Is there any place for Baloch activists to live without any fear? Likewise Sajid, my brother is also missing from UAE since December 2018.”
Mama Qadeer Baloch, a Baloch human rights activist tweeted, “It is sad news for us, renowned journalist Sajid Hussain, the chief editor of @BaluchistanTime is no more among us. His dead body was discovered from a river in Uppsala, Sweden. The unfortunate death of Sajid left a vacuum in the Baloch society which will take years to be filled.”
The spokesperson of the Baloch National Movement, Hammal Haider told ANI: “We are deeply saddened by the demise of prominent Baloch intellectual and writer Sajid Hussain. His death is indeed a loss of a great mind for the people of Balochistan. Due to his straightforwardness, he was loved among all journalistic, literary and political circles,” added Haider.
“After this incident, we have serious concerns about our members and other Baloch refugees living in the West,” he said. (ANI and other agencies’ report)