Activist, Political Dissident Hidayat Lohar Gunned Down In Naseerabad

Lohar's family says he was targetted by unidentified armed men, adding that they did not harbour enmity with anyone. Say police have yet to lodge an FIR for his murder

Activist, Political Dissident Hidayat Lohar Gunned Down In Naseerabad

Activist and political dissident Hidayat Lohar was gunned down by unidentified armed men in broad daylight in Sindh on Friday, his family said.

The police have yet to lodge an FIR for the incident, which his family say was a targeted attack.

Lohar's family said he was the headmaster at a local school, Golu Gawans. On Friday morning, he left home to walk to school as per routine. 

However, he never reached the school as unidentified armed assailants, riding on at least two 125CC motorbikes, approached him and shot at him. Lohar received at least three bullet wounds to the chest, killing him on the spot as his assailants fled.

Terming it a targeted killing, Lohar's family said that the police have yet to lodge an FIR for the fatal gun attack. 

They maintained that they did not harbour any enmity with anyone.

Later, a protest was staged against Lohar's murder by placing his body in the middle of the road.

Former missing person

Lohar was a known political dissident in Sindh. Between April 2017 and May 2019, he spent two years away from his family as a victim of enforced disappearance. During this time, he was declared a missing person. Upon his return, he narrated tales of severe torture while medical complications and marks on his body testified to it.

His disappearance caused his two daughters, Sorath and Sasui Lohar, to pick up his activist mantle as they campaigned for their father's release.

The sisters fearlessly led the campaign for the Sindhi forcibly disappeared but also collaborated with other affected groups' including the Shia, Baloch, Sindhi and families of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members who had disappeared during sit-ins and strike camps in Karachi.

While their father quietened his activism after his return in 2019, his daughters continued to demand the release of missing persons, with their activism evolving beyond their family.

Sorath, a lawyer by training, engaged in the documentation of missing persons from Sindh from the platform of a collective against the enforced disappearances in Sindh and advocated to shed light on their plight on global forums.

However, she and her sister both left active activism in recent years, especially after the former's marriage. But the state has continued to harass them.

The social media accounts of the two sisters fell silent at around the same time, on January 10, 2024. The last posts from their accounts were either re-tweets supporting the march by families of Baloch missing persons led by Mahrang Baloch.

Last year, Lohar was reportedly detained by the CTD and allegedly intimidated.

"Our father was old and sick. He used to shiver uncontrollably without any stimulus due to the torture he had faced in captivity," Sorath told [The Friday Times].

Shock and grief

Reacting to news of Lohar's murder, human rights and anti-missing persons activists.

The Human Rights Council of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed shock over Lohar's murder and said that, given his past, "this incident must be taken seriously."

"HRCP demands a prompt and transparent investigation into Mr Lohar's murder. HRCP will hold a protest, led by chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt, on Saturday, February 17, at 4 pm outside the Karachi Press Club in solidarity with Mr Lohar's family."

Meanwhile, Baloch Yakjehti Committee leader Mahrang Baloch, who led a cross-country march to Islamabad late last year against the enforced disappearance and extra-judicial murder of Baloch youth, said Lohar's dedication to defending human rights was "an inspiration to us all."

"Those responsible for this crime must be held accountable," she said, adding, "We must unite in collective struggle against state oppression."

Leader of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Sammi Deen Baloch expressing her deep sorrow on killing of Hidayat Lohar, adding that "oppressed people get no justice but only dead bodies."

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