Monthly Archives: October 2013

Balochistan cauldron


By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

Instead of visiting Balochistan, Mr. Sharif, accompanied by the Chief Minister of Balochistan, visited China with the aim of handing over Gwadar-Port and the RekoDiq project to the Chinese authorities

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and mineral rich province has been burning since 1947, at times piece by piece, at times wholesale. Problems facing Balochistan have never been addressed by any government to date. Now, when Baluchistan has its first middle-class Chief Minister, Dr. Malik Baloch, dumped bodies of “missing persons”, Hazaras’ genocide, and the exodus of Hindus and Christians goes on unabated.

When a new government was formed last summer, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had an opportunity to bring the dissident Baloch to the negotiating table. However, instead of visiting Balochistan, Mr. Sharif, accompanied by the Chief Minister of Balochistan, visited China with the aim of handing over Gwadar-Port and the Reko Diq project to the Chinese authorities. As a result the Baloch people lost hope that the new government would remedy their problems. Regarding their current visit to China, Balochs believe the purpose is to exploit their resources with the collaboration of China. On the other hand Baloch nationalists say that Islamabad is not interested in the Baloch people; that they are only interested in the resources of the Baloch people. Because of this the Baloch people are alienated from Islamabad.

After coming to power, Mr. Sharif thought that he had resolved the Baloch issue when he appointed a middle-class Baloch nationalist to the position of Chief Minister of Balochistan. In doing so he failed to understand Balochistan’s on the ground realities. From the start he had the opportunity to recover the Baloch “missing’ persons” and stop the fifth military operation in the province. But he did not do so. On the contrary, atrocities against the Baloch people, including the Hazaras, have increased.

Dawn’s recent report stated that 592 “mutilated” bodies have been recovered over the past three years. Most of the dead bodies were found in Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar and the volatile Makran belt. Most of the dead bodies are Baloch political workers.

The Governor of Balochistan, Mohammad Khan Achakzai, from the PKMAP (Pakhtun-KhwaMilliAwami Party), says he does not know if a military operation is going on in Balochistan. In the past, PKMAP opposed military operation in the province. To understand the Baloch issue, we must look at its five conflicts.

Since independence Islamabad has openly come into conflict with the Baloch insurgents five times: 1948-52, 1958-60, 1962-69, 1973-77 and 2004.

First Conflict:

On August 15, 1947, one day after Pakistan was formed, the Khan of Kalat declared Kalat’s independence. The independent status of Kalat was affirmed by the Pakistan Muslim League several times. In spite of this the “princely state” in Balochistan was invaded on April 1, 1948. The Khan’s brother, Prince Abdul Karim and his militia of 700 resisted this invasion but were crushed.

Second Conflict:

The second conflict broke out in 1958 when Islamabad merged the four provinces into “One Unit” to counter the strength of East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh). Subsequently a large “anti-one unit” movement erupted in the Mir Ghat Mountains of Balochistan, led by the chief of the Zehri tribe, NawabNauroz Khan Zehri, along with his militia of 1000 men.

After that NawabZehri was sworn in by the army on a Quranic oath. He surrendered in May, 1959. Ultimately promises were broken and he was imprisoned along with his relatives. His relatives including his sons were hanged and he died in jail.

Third Conflict:

The third conflict began in 1962 when the central government announced their intention to establish military bases in Balochistan. Resistance to this was continued by Sher Mohammad Marri. The conflict ended with a cease-fire agreement that the Balochs would be given greater autonomy.

Again promises were not kept and a fourth bloody conflict arose in 1973.

Fourth Conflict:

This conflict was triggered when Balochistan’s elected NAP (National Awami Party) government was dissolved by Zulfiqar Ali Butto. At the time, all the key Baloch leaders, including SardarAttahUllahMengal, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Mir GhousBakshBizenjo and NawabKhairBakshMarri, were put behind bars.

Prime Minister Bhutto alleged that the government in Balochistan had colluded with Iraq and the Soviet Union to separate Balochistan from both Pakistan and Iran.

Pakistani authorities claimed that a cache of 300 Soviet Union sub-machine guns and 48, 000 rounds of ammunition, intended for Baloch leaders, were found in the house of the Iraqi-Defense Attaché in Islamabad. It was subsequently revealed that the arms had actually been in Karachi and were meant for Iranian Balochs in retaliation against Iran’s support to Iraqi Kurds. It was revealed that the Iraqi Defense Attaché collaborated with Iranian and Pakistan intelligence agents, staging the arms exposure to put pressure on the Iranians.

Therefore in 1973, the Shah of Iran, aided and supported Pakistan by providing US-Cobra helicopters along with pilots to shell and crush the Baloch guerillas in the Marri Mountains.

It is also to be noted that during this conflict well-known socialist figures and journalists, like Asad Rehman, Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Dilip Das, Rashed Rehman, Ahmed Rashid and NajamSethi joined the Baloch. They fought with Baloch guerillas against the Pakistani army. Dilip Das and Najam Sethi were arrested. Sethi was released, but Dilip Das was tortured to death in a military run dungeon.

The situation normalized in 1977 when General Zia-ul-Haq in 1977 deposed Zulfiqar Ali Butto and granted general amnesty to the Baloch key leaders and their warring tribesmen.

Fifth Conflict:

The fifth and current conflict began to take shape in the late 1990s. It was spurred on in 2004 when a female physician was raped by an army officer in DeraBugti. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti reacted strongly and demanded punishment for the rapists as the physician was in his “Bahot” (protection). No one heeded his demand. On the contrary the army shelled DeraBugti. In response Baloch guerillas fired rockets at General Parvez Musharraf’s helicopter in Kohlu, Balochistan.

This conflict was fuelled in August 26, 2006, when Nawab Bugti was assassinated in Taratani’s mountains in a military assault. His assassination tremendously changed the circumstances of Balochistan. A full army operation began in the province. The Baloch activists went missing.

Members of the provincial and national assemblies of the Balochistan National Party, headed by SardarAkhter Jan Mengal, resigned in protest against the operation and to condemn Nawab Bugti’s assassination. They held massive rallies in Balochistan against Bugti’s killing. SardarAkhterMengal was jailed. He was released when PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) came to power in 2008.

Under the Musharraf regime, BalachMarri, the son of prominent Baloch leader NawabKhairBakshMarri, was killed on 21 November 2007. The repression went on even after Gen Musharraf was deposed. Three prominent Baloch nationalists, Ghulam Mohammad Baloch (Baloch National Movement), LalaMunirBaloch (Baloch National Front) and Sher Mohammad Baloch (Baloch Republican Party) were killed. Now when Muslim League is in power, repression as usual goes on.

Muhammad Akbar Notezai is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Quetta. He blogs at thttp://www.akbarnotezai.wordpress.com. He can be reached at akbarnotezai@yahoo.comand on twitter @Akbar_notezai
(Courtesy: ViewPoint)
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Balochistan’s Hinglaj Mata Temple


h4By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

The Hinglaj Mata Temple is situated in a desolated and hilly area of Balochistan’s Lasbela District. It is quite famous in all over the Sub-contient, especially among many Kuldevi, Kshatriya and other Hindu communities of India because it is a Hindu pilgrimage place in Balochistan, Pakistan.

It is approximately 250 km (155 miles) from Karachi, Pakistan’s most populated city. Moreover, it is near the peak of one of the mountains of the Makran Coastal Range. And from the Indus Delta River and the Arabian Sea, it is 120 km. The area of Hinglaj Mata Temple is located in the rugged mountains, and its journey is extremely tiring.

The pilgrimage of Hinglaj Mata Temple is also famous among the local Muslims, particularly the Zikri Balochs (predominantly an ethnic Baloch group). They call it “Nani Ki Haj.”

There are water kunds (pits) in proximity to Hinglaj Shrine; these are: Til Kund, Kheer Kund or Briham Kund, Khali kund and Maha Kali kund at up to the stream of the river Hingol, going downwards to the Hinglaj Mata and kali Mata kunds.

It is said about Til kund that Black Til (corn) when rubbed with hands in Til kund water still becomes white. And about Kheer Kund, it is famous that mailk used to fall, but, presently, water of springs fall through Herb “Mamera” and it is very beneficial for eye sight. Maha Kund is at a height in the mountain.

h1There are also worship places of Ganesh Deva, Asha Pura Mata, Hanumanji, Mata Kali, Gru Gorakh Nath, Gru Nanik, Ramjarokha, Bethak, Aneel Kund on Chorsi Mountain, Braham Kund, Kali Kund and Maha Kali Kund. In the way, Chandra Goop, Khari Nadi, Aghora Pooja and the main pilgrimage place which is the Asthan of Mata Hinglaj Devi.

Kali Matha Asthan

Kali Mata Asthan is few yards away in a mountain cave from Aashapura where a Murti of Kali Mata is fixed.

At this place, devotees offer Coconut, Chunri, Agarbati, Missri, Khoya, Bali (goat sacrifice) and Pooja Arti ceremony, which is performed over there.

Predominantly the Baloch ethnic group, Zikris, are also followers of this Devi. They also worship here and call it “Nani Matha.”
In front of Kali Murti, there is a large pit of water, which comes from up stream.

Hinglaj Asthan

h2It is the main pilgrimage place for devotees where there is a small old Temple in a cave of mountain in original form with open place for devotees. Here yagan, which is offered by devotees favoured with Darshan of Hinglaj Mata. They take sacred bath in Hinglaj Kund (Pit), which is in front it.  Then, after that, devotees go through Gorabh Parsav ceremony under the ground channel, under Hinglaj Mata Murti to complete Yatra.  In the past, devotees would be called “Kapris,” who used to adopt sanyas, renunciation, thereafter, by wearing Mala of Tharma.

Guru Gorakh Shilla (Stone)

It is a big piece of about 15 feet diameter and 12 feet high lying of Hinglaj Shrine. It is, as the Hindu people say, to have been thrown by Guru Gorakh Nath from the Chorsi Mountain, which is at about 2 km away from here and its diameter is equal to present Aneel Kund (water well) on the Chorsi Mountain. On this mountain, Agarbati Dhopp, Namaskher is made.

They also say that the pilgrims, who cannot climb up the Chorsi Mountain, take four rounds around this big stone.

h3This writer was further updated about the Hinglaj Shrine that before pre-partitition days, Rajput King used to come to Hinglaj Shrine for performing pilgrimage from Rajistan and Gujrat provinces of Indus. And at that very time, there were no roads. The devotees had to pass through jungles, sandy routes, deserts, mountains, and rivers, full of danger on the back of camels. It would also take months in travelling. But unlike previous times, it has now become easy to travel to Matha Hinglaj Asthan.

They further added, “The devotees from all over the world would come to the Hinglaj Matha Teerath since centuries. Rven Hindus Rama Avatar,Great Guru Nanik, Mekhan Avatar of laxman, and other great saints, Rishis and Hindu scholars paid visit to Hinglaj Matha Teerath.”

Sham Kumar, a prominent Hindu scholar based in Balochistan, said: ” Hindu sect, Nath Panthis, whose founder was Gru Gork Nath, used to visit this shrine in 6, 00 A.D. Also, the Sindhi mystic poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, would visit the Hinglaj Shrine. He has written a poem about Hinglaj Mata Temple”.

In recent years, devotees from Africa and European countries have visited and performed Hinglaj Matha Teerath.

h5Undoubtedly, Hinglaj Matha Temple has remained famous even in Mahabharet period.

Samrat Vikramjeet, the king of India also visited Hinglaj Matha Temple for performing pilgrimage after conquering the all India.
Raja Todarmal of Mughal regime visited Hinglaj matha Temple, too.

Besides them, other well known names who visited Hinglaj Shrine are: Bihari Ma, Raja Bhaj Singh, Raja Madho Singh, Raja Jagat Singh, of Jaipur, Dada Mekhan, the great saint of Gujrat, who was first called Kapris of Matha and, after this, all the devotees are called Kapris (who wear Mala in their necks), visited Hinglaj Matha Teerath.

Moreover, there is a much famous story among the Hindus about the Hinglaj Mata Temple that the daughter of Prajapati Daksha, Sati, married to the God Shiva against her father’s wishes. Due to this reason, Daksha organized a great Yajna, but didn’t invite Sati and Shiva. Uninvited, Sati reached the yajna-site, where Daksha ignored Sati and vilified Shiva. Then, after that, Sati couldn’t withstand this insult. She committed suicide by jumping into the sacrificial fire. Sati died but her dead body didn’t burn. After that the grief-stricken Shiva wandered the universe with the corpse of Sati. Lastly, God Vishnu cut up the body of Sati into 52 parts. The Head of Sati is believed to have fallen at Hinglaj.

h6Unlike previous times, pathetically, Hindus are now living dangerously in Balochistan. They, after visiting the Hinglaj Mata Temple, were less in number over there. In the past, Hindus would be visible in large number in the mountains of Hinglaj Matha. They would nonchalantly come from inside and outside of the country to visit Hinglaj Mata Teerath. But now it is the condition that they cannot visit the Hinglaj Mata Temple from its contigous districts.

As compared to other districts of Balochistan, Lasbella District, where Hingal Temple is situated, is considered to be safe for the Hindus. And, there are many Hindus, who have settled in Lasbella District of the other places of Balochistan.
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“The Baloch and Hindus have been living just like brothers for centuries. We even attend each other funerals. And it is manifest to everyone that the Baloch and Hindus are facing alike problems. They are not complainants about the Baloch people. They, if you ask, call themselves Baloch and they are Balochs,” said Asif Magsi, who is a resident in Lasbella District of Balochistan.

h10Lastly, the present government of Dr. Malik Baloch ought to resolve the manifold issues of the Hindus, at any cost. They are pioneers of this land, i.e., Balochistan. They are living since time immemorial over here. Therefore the problems of the Hindus must be resolved so that they may live peacefully and visit Hinglaj Mata Temple without any fear.

The writer is doing a research on the Balochistan based Hindus. Twitter: @Akbar_notezai Email: akbarnotezai@yahoo.com

Published in The Baloch Hal on October 1, 2013