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January 24, 2013

Minister changes statement over withdrawal of case against owners

 
January 24, 2013

KARACHI: Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwala first disclosed on Wednesday that the case registered against the owners of the Baldia Town garments factory — where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year — had been withdrawn, and then clarfied that it had not, Geo News reported.
Earlier the minister had said that the case of the Baldia Town garments factory, where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year, had been withdrawn following directives from Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. He had said the prime minister has promised the office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) to have the case withdrawn during his visit to the chamber.
On September 11, the Category III blaze had killed at least 259 employees in the ill-fated factory, Ali Enterprises, in one of the worst industrial disasters in the country’s history. The incident had sparked protests and prompted calls for better safety standards in all industrial units of the country.
However, Wednesday’s earlier announcement shocked hundreds of affected families, which had lost their loved ones in the incident and have been awaiting justice. A large number of heirs are yet to get compensation as their family members who had burned beyond recognition have not been identified despite the passage of more than four months.
The Sindh High Court has been hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and other labour organisations, which have demanded that responsibility be fixed for the tragic incident and the affected families compensated.
The petitioners have also demanded that the process of identifying dozens of victims, who had burned beyond recognition, be expedited and reports of DNA tests submitted so that the painful wait of their legal heirs could come to an end.
Meanwhile, Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad, during a telephonic conversation with the prime minister, has

expressed concern over the withdrawal of the case. He also informed Prime Minister Ashraf regarding the legal aspects of the case and asked him not to withdraw the case as it would be injustice with families of the victims.
Later, Governor Ebad directed the IG Sindh to proceed with the case and fulfil all legal aspects providing justice the families of the victims. The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has also demanded fair and independent investigation of the Baldia factory fire case.

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