Karachi police on Monday arrested 28 protesters demonstrating outside Sindh Assembly over ‘missing’ Baloch students.

The protestors were manhandled as they were demonstrating against the abduction of two Baloch students of the University of Karachi (KU) by law enforcement agencies, reported Dawn.

The two students of KU’s Philosophy Department — Doda Baloch and Ghamshad Baloch — were taken away from their home near Maskan Chowrangi in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on June 7 and their whereabouts are unknown since then.

Their relatives and members of civil society organisations had set up a camp outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC) for the last four days. On Sunday night, they managed to reach the Sindh Assembly’s main gate where they staged a sit-in for the release of the missing students, reported Dawn.

The protest organisers accused the police of manhandling women and children. They said the Sindh police had retracted their promise of arranging a meeting of the missing students’ relatives with Counter Terrorism Department officials on Monday. Therefore, they said, they again staged a sit-in near the Sindh Assembly building where the police manhandled and arrested protesters, reported Dawn.

Earlier, around 120-130 relatives and members of different organisations, including activists Seemi Din Baloch, Abdul Wahab Baloch, Aamna Baloch, Naghma Sheikh and others, had resumed their march around 4:50 pm from the KPC towards the assembly building where the budget session was ongoing.

Passing through Sarwar Shaheed Road, they had staged a sit-in at the assembly’s gate.

Speaking to the protesters there, Seemi said that taking away students was equal to the “character assassination” of the educational institutes.

She said Doda and Ghamshad were students but they were taken away because “being Baloch was a crime”. If they had not been Baloch, they would not have been taken away, she said.

She announced that the protesters would continue their demonstration outside the assembly till the release of the missing students.

Meanwhile, Sheikh said that people from the Baloch community were being taken away from Quetta, Panjgur and Karachi. She said if two missing Baloch are released, then in return, “10 others are whisked away,” reported Dawn.

Meanwhile, footage shared on social media showed the police treating the protesters in a rough manner and dispersing them.

Pakistan Peoples Party Secretary General Farhatullah Babar criticised the “use of disproportionate force and arrest of women”, adding that such treatment was “highly disturbing”.

Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari termed the situation as “barbarism at its peak”, reported Geo News.

MPA Sanaullah Baloch strongly condemned the Sindh police’s “heavy-handedness and inhuman act of violence against innocent and peaceful Baloch women and students”.

He said the Sindh government should investigate the incident.

Qaumi Awami Tehreek president Ayaz Latif Palijo said that Sindh’s land should not be used for violence against the Baloch community, reported Geo News.