EXPRESSING “surprise” at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statements on Balochistan, Brahumdagh Bugti, the grandson of slain Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti, on Monday said he was encouraged by the turn of events and hoped that the Indian government would continue with this policy.
Bugti, who heads the Baloch Republican Party, told The Indian Express that he would also like Indian cinema to make a movie on the Baloch struggle, and that he would like Amitabh Bachchan to play the character of his grandfather, who was killed in 2006 during a military operation conducted by the Pakistani army.
Akbar Bugti was one of the tallest leaders among Baloch nationalists; as heir to his legacy, Brahumdagh Bugti now represents them at various international fora, and is widely regarded as the leader of the Baloch rebels.
The 36-year-old fled from Balochistan to Afghanistan after his grandfather was killed. In 2010, he moved to Switzerland where he has been living in exile.
Speaking from Geneva, Bugti said, “I was at my home, here in Switzerland, when some of my colleagues in our media wing spotted the news of the Prime Minister’s remarks and told me about it.”
He said, “It is very encouraging for me, personally, and for the Baloch people who have been struggling for their independence for so long. I thank PM Modi and hope this will continue as India’s policy. India must raise the issue of human rights violations, systematic genocide by Pakistan’s army, just like it happened in Bangladesh.”
Bugti said, “Everyday, we receive news of dead bodies of Baloch people being killed…in Quetta, you saw the whole cream of legal community being killed few days ago. This has to stop, and India can do a lot.”
“For this, I would request Indian cinema to make movies, the top producers and directors, and movie stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan to act in them. Amitabh can play the role of my grandfather very well,” he said.
Asked whether there has been any contacts with the Indian government over the last 10 years, Bugti said, “There has been no contact with the Indian authorities at all… the only time I would meet Indians was when I would go to the UN Human Rights Council for sessions to raise the human rights violations in Balochistan.”
Bugti further rubbished allegations that India helped him get a passport for his travel to Switzerland. “First of all, people can check with Swiss immigration about which passport I travelled on. Secondly, even if India helped, what’s wrong with that?” he said.
On ties with India, Bugti said that his grandfather had told him that Indira Gandhi had said in Parliament once that after the creation of Bangladesh, if atrocities continue in Balochistan, India may have to intervene. “My grandfather told me about this. I hope Prime Minister Modi fulfills that commitment by a former Indian prime minister,” he said.
Prime Minister Modi, in his Independence Day address, had thanked “the people of Balochistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” for “the goodwill they have shown towards me”. On Friday, Modi had told an all-party meeting on Kashmir that the “time has come that Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Balochistan and PoK”.