The Hazara community’s protest over the targeted killings of 11 miners in Mach district entered its fourth consecutive day. The bereaved families continued their protest on the Quetta-Sibi highway (Western Bypass), near Hazara Town, Quetta, refusing to bury the dead until their demands are met.
“We will not end our protest until the arrest of all the assassins,” chief of Balochistan Shia Conference, Agha Daud, told the media. “The latest wave of killings will spread to other cities including Quetta if a decisive action is not taken at this stage,” he added.
The protests come after terrorists kidnapped and later killed 11 coal miners from Hazara community in the Mach area of Balochistan on 3rd January. Terrorists took the victims to a nearby area before opening fire at close range.
Police said six of the miners were dead on the spot, and five died on the way to a hospital. The terrorists identified the miners as being from the Shia Hazara community. The attackers took coal minders from Shia Hazara community away for execution, leaving others unharmed.
Members of the Hazara community staged sit-ins in various cities, including Karachi, to express solidarity with the families of coal miners killed in the incident.
Ministers Visit Quetta
A platoon of government ministers have visited Quetta, giving reassurances to the Hazara community of swift investigation and action against the assailants, but have been unsuccessful in convincing the protestors to remove the coffins and bury the dead.
Provincial ministers Mir Zahoor Baledi and Noor Muhammad visited the protest camp and condemned the killings of coal miners. However, the protesters refused to negotiate, saying that they will only hold dialogue with the federal government.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad announced a judicial committee to investigate the killings and assured protection to the Hazara community. He said this while talking to the bereaved families and Hazara community in Quetta. Sheikh Rashid, who visited the protesting Hazara community on the directive of the prime minister, conveyed the premier’s condolences to the bereaved families.
The protesters refused to accept the Interior Minister’s request to end the sit-in and bury the dead. They demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan himself should visit them and take stock of the situation.
Political parties and tribal leaders also visited the protesters to express their condolences and solidarity with them. Meanwhile, the Quetta deputy commissioner and FC officials reached the protesters’ camp, but the protesters refused to negotiate.
Meanwhile, Ali Zaidi, the current Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs and Zulfi Bukhaari, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, reached Quetta on Imran Khan’s instructions and held talks with the Hazara community leaders till late night. They appealed to them to end their protest and assured them that the Prime Minister would visit them. The community, however, rejected the appeal.
Prime Minister’s Response
In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “Have asked the FC to use all resources to apprehend these killers & bring them to justice. The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the govt.”
Earlier, the Federal Cabinet in a meeting held with Prime Minister Imran Khan accepted seven of the eight demands of the protesters. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad briefed the cabinet members on his meeting with the protesters in Quetta. The Prime Minister once again assured the bereaved families that the perpetrators of the crime would not be allowed to escape punishment.
The Prime Minister further assured protestors from the Hazara Community that he would soon visit Quetta to express his condolence. “I will never betray my people’s trust. Please bury your loved ones, so their souls find peace,” he said.
As of now, the Hazara community protest continues with the 11 coffins staged on the Quetta-Sibi highway, even after the Prime Minister has vowed to visit the Hazara community in Quetta.