Videos of Islamkot Police mercilessly hitting civilians with batons went viral on Twitter on Monday. The locals of Thar started the protest on Thursday after a worker, Dodo Bheel, succumbed to his injuries at the Hyderabad Civil Hospital.
According to Bheel’s family, he was tortured to death after being detained for two weeks on Thursday by guards of a coal mining company, where he worked, on allegations of theft.
The company expressed its condolences for Bheel’s demise on Twitter, stating they are working with law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter.
Bheel's family and friends blocked Thar Coal Road for a peaceful demonstration with Bheel’s body on the day he died, demanding official action against the alleged suspects and his employers. Alim Bheel, Dodo’s brother, registered an FIR against the security guards, but it wasn’t until Friday that the arrests were made.
Human rights activist Krishan Sharma was present at the demonstration.
Some PPP leaders and workers also actively joined the protest, including Sushil Malani.
Tharparkar SSP Hassan Sardar Niazi also visited the protest site and encouraged the registration of an FIR. But he is reported to have threatened the protestors with strict action if they didn’t end the protest soon.
The locals of Thar insisted that they will not leave until justice for Dodo Bheel has been served. A social media user reported that the suspects were released on protective bail for 15 days.
Some Twitter users expressed their disappointment that the PPP led government was behaving this way to its “own people.”
This is not the first time locals of Islamkot have raised their voices against what they call unfair practises of a mining company. Earlier this year, a rally against the exploitation of locals and the environment took place on 24th January, organised by the Thar Coal Action Committee. The locals complained that the rights of the locals were being violated and companies were even taking over land through manipulation of agreement documents.
In December 2016, sit-ins were held against the execution of the mine water reservoir project, which was opposed by the local population as well as environmental and human rights activists.