Two young girls, both sisters, aged 11 and 13, were severely injured on Tuesday evening in an acid attack while they were on their way home from a shopping centre in Dalbandin City, district Chaghai, Balochistan. They were rushed to a local hospital for initial medical aid, after which they were referred to the Civil Hospital Quetta, around seven hours away by road.
The victims’ parents are extremely poor, so much so that the local community had to contribute money and gather enough funds to send the sisters to the Civil Hospital Quetta by road, where they are currently under treatment.
While the acid-throwers remained unidentified, residents of the area believe that this attack was carried out by the shadowy ‘Baloch Ghaeratmand Group’.
A few days ago, the group, whose members remain unknown even in the close-knit community of Dalbandin city, which has a population of approximately 25,000 people, had distributed flyers in the area, warning women and young girls to remain indoors.
The pamphlet, which is in Urdu, declared that development did not mean that the local population went against the “Baloch culture of Chaddor and Char-Deewari” for women. It also clearly warned women and girls against stepping out of their houses with their faces uncovered, or even going to a doctor unaccompanied by a man. “Acid will be thrown on the faces of women and girls who step out of their houses without covering their faces,” the flyer says. It ends with a chilling warning: “People who fail to comply with these orders will themselves be responsible for the consequences.”
The local police, meanwhile, claim to have no idea about the perpetrators, or whether it was in any way related to the pamphlet issued by the “Baloch Ghaeratmand Group.” They did, however, say that further investigation was under way, and it was too early to pin responsibility on anyone.
“We have never heard of this group; we don’t even know who’s part of it, nor are they associated with the nationalists,” residents of the area told The News on the condition of anonymity. “We don’t know where they came from, or whose orders they’re working on. The police and the Frontier Constabulary (FC) claim to be helpless as well. If they, with all their powers, can’t do anything either, who are we supposed to turn to for assistance?”
Threats from relatively unknown groups, however, are not a new phenomenon in the region. Earlier this month, the Khuzdar Press Club had received threats from another new gang, the ‘Baloch Musallah Difa Tanzeem’, warning them against covering events organised by nationalist parties and groups.