Members of the Hazara community refusing to bury the coal miners that were killed in a brutal attack on Sunday, continued their sit-in in Quetta on Tuesday for the third straight day, refusing to budge till their demands are met.
The bodies of the deceased were kept right where the community staged the demonstration, on the Quetta-Sibi highway (Western Bypass), near Hazara Town.
Due to the presence of the protesters, the area was completely blocked off to traffic, creating difficulties for people passing through as well as transporters looking to haul their goods across.
A large group of women and children were also seen at the protest, holding photographs of their loved ones killed in the tragic incident.
A day earlier, up to 2,500 protesters gathered with eight of the bodies in coffins.
“We will not end our protest until the arrest of all the assassins,” chief of Balochistan Shia Conference, Agha Daud, told AFP.
“The latest wave of killings will spread to other cities including Quetta if a decisive action is not taken at this stage,” he added.
Home minister visits protester camp
Balochistan home minister Mir Ziaullah Langove visited the protesters’ camp today along with other provincial ministers.
The leaders vowed to continue their protest until the prime minister visits Quetta.
“It is our demand that the prime minister come to Quetta and meet us personally,” said a representative of the Hazara committee, Agha Syed Muhammad Raza.
“Those who killed our people and their abettors must be brought to justice,” he added.
Balochistan Minister for Finance Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi said: “We have come to you before and will continue to come and support you.”
Traders announce shutter-down strike
The traders association of Balochistan, led by Muhammad Rahim Kakar, also arrived to meet at the site to meet with the protesters.
The association has announced a city-wide shutter-down strike on Thursday.
Protests in other cities
Protests in support of the community were also held in Karachi and Gilgit.
Children were seen accompanying the adults.
Sheikh Rasheed visits Quetta, briefs PM
To address the demands put forth by the protesters — which include the stepping down of the Balochistan government and for Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Quetta — Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed met the group on Monday.
He said he is ready to accept all the demands of the Hazara, except the resignation of the Balochistan government.
Rasheed announced compensation amounting to Rs2.5 million for the families of each of the deceased coal miner.
“Each family of the martyrs will be given Rs1 million by the Prime Minister, while Rs1.5 million by the chief minister of Balochistan,” he told the media.
After his return to the capital today, he briefed the premier about his visit and the demands made by the Hazara leaders.
Ten colliers were killed and four others were seriously injured on Sunday after armed men attacked them at a coal field in Balochistan’s Bolan district.
The coal miners, according to police, were taken to nearby mountains where they were shot.
The 10 miners were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday as they slept near the remote coal mine in the southwestern mountainous Machh area — 60 kilometres southeast of Quetta city, local government official Abid Saleem said.
Security officials who did not want to be named told AFP the attackers first separated the miners before tying their hands and feet and taking them into the hills to kill them.
Two of the miners were Afghans and their bodies have been sent to Afghanistan for burial, a local security official told AFP.
Officials on Monday clarified ten people had died in the attack, revising a previous death toll of 11, AFP reported.
The militant group Daesh claimed the attack, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors militant activities worldwide.
— With additional input from AFP.