GUWAHATI, India, 24 November 2019
After the Kashmir issues, the Indian focus has shifted to Balochistan along with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit, where the unconditional support to the Baloch people for their mission to make Balochistan a sovereign country is slowly but steadily increasing. From the political class to civil society groups, goodwill for the Baloch freedom movement has grown in the recent past which has inspired the Baloch freedom fighters to express confidence in the Indo-Baloch relationship.
The significant development surfaced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned Balochistan, referring to the relentless freedom struggle by Balochis since 1948 in his 2016 Independence Day (15 August) speech from the courtyard of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi. The people of Balochistan (also residents of Gilgit and PoK) had acknowledged India and showed goodwill toward its billion-plus populace on various occasions, which PM Modi returned back with heartiest thanks.
It may not directly influence the foreign policy of New Delhi towards Islamabad, but a positive gesture spread across the liberal Indians, who preferred to support the Balochis, understandably secular in nature. But the development also created more troubles for the freedom-aspiring Baloch nationals as the Pakistani forces increased atrocities subsequently. Several military operations were imposed in Balochistan distressing thousands of Balochis.
Predominantly Muslim Balochis, who are presently on a warpath against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for their liberation, claimed that Baloch people got independence from the imperialist British forces on 11 August 1947, ahead of India and Pakistan. Balochistan remained a sovereign nation till 27 March 1948. And since then Baloch people are under Pakistani occupation resulting in unleashed atrocities over them.
Recently a group of Baloch people observed Martyr’s Day on 13 November 2019 in London, which was picked up by the international media outlets including those of India. Making a straight call to India, members of Baloch National Movement, Baloch Students’ Organisation, and other pro-Balochistan outfits argued that New Delhi should help the Balochis as it had supported Bangladesh Mukti Juddha in 1971.
Baloch patriots across the world urged the Indian government along with the US and UK to extend support to their freedom movement against Islamabad, as the country has slowly turned into a breeding ground of Islamist militants that would finally destabilize the security and peace of the entire region, where Baloch people continue following the spirit of secularism even though they are Muslim by majority.
Days back, Free Balochistan Movement chief Hyrbyair Marri, while talking to a group of scribes in Guwahati through video conferencing, alleged that the Pakistani forces have gone on rampant exploitations of Balochistan’s resources like natural gas, coal, gold, copper, and various minerals. Even though Balochistan has a small population (around 13 million), Baloch people are deprived of regular electricity, safe drinking water, and other civic amenities, whereas its infant mortality rate is very high and the literacy rate is too low.
Marri was also critical of Iran (after Pakistan) as both the Islamic countries, according to him, did not mind their differences and were on the same page when it came to the oppression of the Baloch people. Once colonized by Europeans, Balochistan is now under the occupation of Pakistan and Iran, which compelled thousands of Balochis to sacrifice their lives for a united and independent homeland.
But Pakistan has been especially perfidious, lecturing India about Kashmir issues, while over twenty thousand Baloch have disappeared in the last decade. Even women, children, and the elderly are not spared by the Pakistani army, lamented Marri. He also added that over 2,000 journalists, teachers, lawyers, and cultural personalities were forcibly abducted, tortured, and even killed in a decade.
“We need India’s friendship, support, and help. But rather than using Balochistan independence struggle as a means to checkmate and counter Islamabad, New Delhi should look at Balochistan as an all-weather ally and India should see post-independence secular and stable Balochistan which will be one of the factors in bringing tranquility in the the region,” pointed out Marri.
He also referred to a Hindu temple in Balochistan in the program and described how Muslim Balochis take care of the Shakti Peeth (named Hinglaj Mata Mandir). Positioned in a mountain cave on the bank of Hingol river inside Hingol National Park, which is adjacent to the Makran coast of the Arabian Sea in south-west Pakistan, the temple has an idol of Goddess Shakti (Sati), accompanied by Bhairava (a form of Lord Shiva).
Sati, the daughter of Daksha Maharaj, married Shiva against her father’s wish. Mythology narrates that proud king Daksha did not invite Sati (Parvati) and Mahadev for an important Yagna. However, she wanted to attend the rituals, where Daksha humiliated her husband following which Sati immolated herself at her father’s palace. Angry Mahadev soon arrived there and punished Daksha cutting off his head. Then Maheswar took Sati’s mortal remains on his shoulder and started wandering with Tandava Nritya (dance of destruction). With an aim to douse Shiva’s rage, Lord Vishnu cut the mortal remains into 51 pieces through his Sudarsan Chakra. Body parts of Sati fell in various localities on Earth and all locations later emerged as shrines for Hindus.
It is believed that Sati’s head with Hingul (vermillion/sindoor) had fallen on the place (now under Balochistan) where the Hinglaj temple is surfaced. The most sacred part (Yoni) fell on Nilachal hills of Guwahati (then a part of Kamrup empire), where the sacred Kamakhya temple is located.
More recently, a northeast-India-based nationalists’ group urged the Union government in New Delhi to pursue with the Balochistan authority for revitalizing the Hinglaj Mata Mandir. Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) argued that the Hinglaj temple is a revered place for Hindus where thousands gather to pray to Goddess Shakti. “We have appealed to PM Modi to take a personal interest to enhance diplomatic efforts to revive the Hinglaj temple and pave easier ways for Indian pilgrims to visit the shrine. As the Baloch nationals are legitimately secular, they should also be taken into confidence in fulfilling the mission,” said a PPFA statement.
Now Marri along with other Baloch nationals have taken a task for setting up Indo-Baloch friendship platforms in different countries, more precisely in India even though it is a Hindu majority nation. But it is quite amazing that the Baloch freedom struggle has still not mingled with Islamist extremism.
On various social networking sites, the Bloch nationalists have started wishing Indian people on auspicious occasions including the Republic and Independence Days. They are clear in mind while appealing to the Indians as brothers and sisters, saying Balochis are thankful to India for its increasing solidarity and supports. Indians are also being urged to be the voice for disgraced Baloch people in different forums including the United Nations. Many of them even chanted typically Indian Hindu slogans like “Bharat Mata Ki Joi” or “Jai Hind”.
About the author
Nava Thakuria is a journalist and media commentator based in Guwahati, Northeast India. He has been covering socio-political developments of Northeast India, along with its neighbours Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, for various media outlets for more than two decades.
More articles by Nava Thakuria on Tibet Sun.