Journalist Javed Darpali of Dera Allah Yar region in Balochistan’s Jaffarabad district survived a ‘deadly attack’ on January 24, 2023, by ‘unknown’ armed men, nearly eight in total. He was in his office at the main road of the Tehsil when armed men entered his office at around 9 o’clock at night.
The injured journalist alleges Jaffarabad-based advisor to minister for energy Umar Khan Jamali, and SHO Dera Allah Yar Gul Hassan Bahrani, were behind the attack.
According to his police complaint, on January 24, eight armed men, including two masquerading as journalists, entered the office of weekly magazine Hakkal and attacked its chief editor, Javed Darpali, in tehsil Dera Allah Yar of Balochistan’s Jaffarabad district. Despite his continuous protests, when he asked why attacking him, he was only tortured.
After tormenting him, the assailants left and the journalist was shifted to hospital. When the journalist reached out to police for lodging his First Information Report (FIR), he was shocked when the police outrightly repudiated the charges filed by the victim, in which he identified two of the attackers. He submitted an application against all this before the Sessions Judge to get justice by filing the two attackers’ names in the FIR.
Both the energy advisor and the SHO did not respond to requests for comment. However, neither of them have denied Javed Darpali’s claims at any forum.
This is the second time Darpali has suffered such a deadly attack. The journalist says he survived an attack of a similar nature some three years ago, when unknown men armed with sticks beat him in front of his brother as they were on their way back home. “Police was not interested in my case three years ago, and they aren’t interested now either,” Darpali accuses.
Darpali says he has received several threats from his local minister, Umar Khan Jamali, who keeps calling him to urge him ‘not to write’ against him (Jamali). “I refused, saying it was my duty to write on injustices happening in my region, and (told him) you are a public representative which makes you accountable to the masses,” Darpali told The Friday Times, adding that those with power rule everything in the country.
He expressed hopelessness in the system when it saves the accused from even getting nominated in the FIR. “I identified two out of eight attackers, but police are not bringing their names despite my nominations,” he says despairingly, even though he seems hopeful for justice in any form.
Journalists in Balochistan have been facing various security challenges for the past few decades. On several matters , they cannot report independently, especially on matters related to security and corruption charges against influential figures. Considering the given tough scenario, Balochistan has very few working journalists covering actual issues on the ground.
Last year, Abdul Wahid Raisani, a journalist based in Quetta working with Daily Azadi, was shot dead when he was on his way home from office. Sajid Hussain Baloch, a journalist based in Turbat, was forced to immigrate to Europe, where he was mysteriously killed in Sweden. There was no further inquiry into the matter.
Kiyya Baloch, another journalist in asylum, has been receiving cyber threats and has been bullied on social media. His bylines have been removed from newspapers on recommendations from unidentified ‘superior authorities’. He has also claimed that important tweets from his Twitter account have been removed, including reports on conflict in Balochistan.
Amidst these concerns, journalists like Darpali are faced with a precarious dilemma: reporting in a region like Balochistan where neither government institutions favour you, nor the influential figures and institutions let you work freely as a journalist.
What options remain for journalists like Javed Darpali?