Sangh seminar raises Baloch freedom cry

A seminar organised by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh think tank today sounded the war cry for Balochistan's independence, celebrating "rebels" from across the border while projecting India as the catalyst for the movement.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 2.10.16
  •  
Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi, Oct. 1: A seminar organised by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh think tank today sounded the war cry for Balochistan's independence, celebrating "rebels" from across the border while projecting India as the catalyst for the movement.

A key speaker set out the agenda, making it clear that the seminar was not merely an "academic" exercise.

Among the panellists who spoke at the seminar on "Baloch Nationality" were Tarek Fatah, a Canadian writer, broadcaster and activist whose home country is Pakistan, and Mazdak Dilshad Baloch, a young leader of the Baloch freedom movement.

Both spoke of the plight of Balochis, made a case for why it should secede from Pakistan and thanked India for its support to their "cause".

At the UN this week, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had asked Pakistan to "introspect" about its human rights record, "including in Balochistan". Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned the restive Pakistani province in his Independence Day speech this year.

Rakesh Sinha, the honorary director of the RSS think tank, India Policy Foundation, made the seminar's agenda clear. "This is not merely an academic seminar," he said in Hindi, "it is a demonstration of our solidarity with Balochistan."

Sinha, who teaches at Delhi University, said it was "befitting" that on the first day of the "Navratri" festival, the "leadership of the ' andolan' (movement) is in our (India's) hands because we have to retrieve the image we had in the pre-Independence era".

"In recent debates, participants, including BJP spokespersons, made out as though our support for Balochistan was a tit-for-tat for Pakistan's advocacy of Kashmir. Kashmir is not the issue here. Even if Pakistan were to whole-heartedly endorse India's position on Kashmir, Balochistan will remain an issue for us," Sinha said.

In 1912, when the African National Congress was founded, he said, a senior Congress leader in the Independence struggle had travelled to South Africa to express India's solidarity. "That precedent was upheld when (India) flagged the issue of Baloch rights at the UN," he said.

Dilshad Baloch said: "India is the world's largest democracy that is with us. For the first time, a political leader (Modi) has stepped out to help us. For 70 years, no Baloch even sought India's help. Today, we know we are not alone against Pakistan."

Fatah, who has endeared himself to the ruling establishment here and sections of the TV media for his trenchant criticism of his home country, called Pakistan a "state of mind and not a country".

He claimed that after India bifurcated Pakistan and brought Bangladesh into being, the day was not far when "you will hear slogans in Hindi in Balochistan".

While every speaker received his share of claps, the loudest were for Modi and the army's "surgical strikes" across the Line of Control.

Hanuman parallel

In Uttarakhand, defence minister Manohar Parrikar today likened Pakistan's condition to an "anaesthetised patient" after a surgery, in his first public comments on the cross-LoC strikes. "Even two days after the surgical strikes, Pakistan has no idea what has happened," PTI quoted him as saying. Parrikar also referred to the Ramayan to say the Indian Army, like Hanuman, had recognised its prowess.

However, former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay said such "surgical strikes" had taken place in the past, too, but were never publicised.