Factory owner remanded for two days in Keamari deaths case

By Our Correspondent
January 31, 2023

A local court on Monday granted a two-day police remand of a factory owner arrested on the charges of manslaughter and negligence after 18 mysterious deaths of people, including 16 children, who are said to have died due to toxic fumes over the past several weeks in the Keamari area.

The investigating officer produced the detained suspect — Khair Muhammad, alias Sher Muhammad — before the judicial magistrate (West) and requested for his physical remand for the investigation.

The IO said the suspect was running a plastic recycling factory in the area, adding that it emitted toxic fumes that allegedly caused deaths of as many as 18 residents of the area. The factory was being operated without safety measures to ensure emission of the fumes after proper filtering with modern equipment, mentioned the officer.

He said the suspect’s two brothers are at large and need to be arrested, and thus pleaded with the magistrate to grant a 14-day remand of the suspect for interrogation about his brothers, and to complete the legal formalities and the investigation.

The magistrate, however, granted the custody of the suspect to the police for two days with the direction to produce him on the next date along with an investigation report.

An FIR had been registered at the Mochko police station under sections 322, 284 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of labourer Khadim Hussain, who had lost four family members while living in Ali Muhammad Goth, located on Suparco Road near Mawach Goth.

Section 322 deals with punishment for Qatl-bis-sabab, Section 284 with negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance, and Section 34 with acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

The complainant had told the police in his statement that he is a resident of a Katchi Abadi in Ali Muhammad Goth. He said that several recycling factories are operating near his locality without taking any precautionary measures and emitting mysterious toxic gases that have taken several innocent lives.

SHO Chaudhry Shahid had told The News on Sunday that the FIR had been registered against three factory owners: Khair Muhammad, alias Sher Ali, Shahid Hussain and Saeed Khan. He said that some unidentified factory owners have also been accused in the FIR.

The officer said that one of the owners of a plastic recycling factory, namely Khair Muhammad, had been arrested, while efforts are under way to arrest the other factory owners.

Eighteen people, majority of them children, have died in Ali Muhammad Goth and Mawach Goth between January 10 and January 25 after inhaling mysterious toxic gases emitting from the factories operating in the residential areas.

On Saturday a detailed investigation report by the office of Sindh’s director general health had said that measles outbreak could be one of the probable causes of deaths in the area, but a final verdict could only be given after confirmation from the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, where blood samples had been sent for analysis.