India might consider government-in-exile status for Balochis

Brahumdagh, fearing for his life, has lived in exile ? first in Afghanistan and later in Switzerland Photograph:( Twitter )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 23, 2016, 03.30 AM (IST)

By Manan Kumar

Big intervention by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aimed at repeating the feat of country's first premier, Jawaharlal Nehru, seems to be yielding result as India has received the request for political asylum from exiled Baloch leader Brahumdagh Bugti.

Highly placed sources suggested that if relations with Pakistan continue to deteriorate, the Modi government, besides providing political asylum to Brahumdagh, heir apparent to firebrand pro-India Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, may also allow Baloch expats to establish their government in exile in India.

This has been done only once by India, with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who, in a big diplomatic blow to China, was welcomed by Nehru with open arms in 1959 and was allowed to set up the Tibetan government in exile with its headquarters in Dharamsala area of northern Himachal Pradesh state.

If Pakistan does not stop using terrorism as a state policy to harm India, the government can take a policy decision to give persecuted Baloch leaders and people the political space to seek freedom from Pakistan’s occupation, said sources.

In August, Modi had suggested a major shift in policy towards Pakistan by invoking the Baloch issue first at the all-party meet to discuss the Kashmir unrest and later followed it up in his Independence Day address.

“Pakistan forgets that it rains bombs on its citizens. Now, the time has come for Pakistan to explain to the world about the atrocities it is unleashing on the people of Balochistan…,” Modi had said.

Like the Tibetan government in exile, Brahumdagh can be provided a place to run his government in exile from the Bilochpura village of Baghpat in northern Uttar Pradesh, where many ethnic Balochis have been living since Babur’s period, sources said.

Recently, Mazdak Dilshad Baloch, a prominent voice among the expatriate Baloch community fighting for the liberation of Balochistan, was allowed by the government to meet the Baloch families from Bilochpura and five nearby villages that have Baloch population.

However, sources said that the call to give political asylum will be taken at the highest level by Modi after weighing all pros and cons as it is a big policy decision that can open a new area of conflict with Pakistan.

After his grandfather Nawab Bugti was killed in a Pakistani air strike in 2006, Brahumdagh founded the Baloch Republican Party, a Baloch nationalist group, which broke away from his uncle Talal Akbar Bugti's Jamhoori Watan Party in 2008.

Pakistan government accuses Brahumdagh Bugti of leading the Baloch Republican Army, a separatist group designated as a terrorist organisation in Pakistan. Since the death of his grandfather, who was also his mentor, Brahumdagh, fearing for his life, has lived in exile – first in Afghanistan and later in Switzerland.

Brahumdagh's asylum request, received at the Indian consulate in Geneva, has been forwarded to the Union home ministry. The ministry is looking at old records for asylum procedures as there is not stated policy on asylum.

(This report first appeared in DNA) 

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