ISLAMABAD: Security agencies have released a Baloch student who was taken into custody in connection with a suicide blast at the University of Karachi (KU) on April 26, Baloch Council chairperson Ahsan Baloch told Dawn.com on Tuesday.
Bebgar Imdad, a seventh-semester student at Numl in Islamabad and a native of Balochistan’s Kech area, was picked up by security agencies on April 27 from Punjab University (PU), where he was visiting a relative in hostel No.7.
Subsequently, Baloch Council activists had staged a sit-in outside the vice-chancellor’s office at PU, demanding Imdad’s release. Other civil rights activists also joined the chorus calling for the student’s release.
Ahsan Baloch said on Tuesday that they would now end the sit-in and planned to hold a press conference.
Earlier, a habeas corpus petition seeking Imdad’s recovery was filed by his cousin in the Lahore High Court, which was informed by the city police on Monday that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had arrested Imdad in connection with the KU blast.
This was stated in a report that city police had submitted to the LHC on the court’s directives.
The report said PU chief security officer retired Colonel Abdullah was contacted by the Lahore police for verification of an application filed against the alleged abduction. However, the report added, the security officer confirmed the arrest of the student by the CTD.
The report said the security officer had assisted the police team in arresting Imdad.
At the hearing, counsel for the petitioner Asad Jamal, after going through the police report, had raised various legal questions on the arrest and transfer of Imdad from Lahore to Karachi. He said that not just the arrest of the student but his shifting to Karachi without seeking a transit remand from a court of law was also illegal.
According to sources privy to the development, the plea for Imdad’s release was withdrawn on Tuesday.
Baloch students being picked up is a longstanding issue in Pakistan and a briefing paper released by the International Commission of Jurists in 2020 stated that the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances had “received 1,144 cases of allegations of enforced disappearances from Pakistan between 1980 and 2019, with a particularly large number in 2015-16, of which some 731 remained unclarified as of the end of 2019”.
In a recent press release that sounded the alarm over the frequent reports of abductions of Baloch people, Hina Jilani, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), said: “The state must understand that it cannot expect to resolve the legitimate grievances of the Baloch people if it is not prepared to let these grievances see the light of the day.”
In 2020, an Al Jazeera report cited data collected by non-governmental organisation Voice for Baloch Missing Persons and said that at least 5,000 people had been subjected to enforced disappearances in Balochistan in the last 20 years.