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December 23, 2016

Rahman Bhola tells judge he set Baldia factory on fire


December 23, 2016

The prime suspect in the Baldia factory arson attack case recorded his confessional statement before a local court on Thursday.

Forty-six-year-old Abdul Rahman, alias Bhola, is accused of being behind the 2012 Ali Enterprises factory inferno, one of Pakistan’s worst industrial disasters in which 259 workers were burnt alive.

He is believed to have been a sector in-charge for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) at the time of the tragedy – a claim that all the factions of the party have vehemently denied.

Bhola, who recorded his confessional statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code before the judicial magistrate (West), claimed that he, one Zubair, alias Charya, and others had set fire to the garment factory.

The prime suspect, who was brought to the court amid heavy police and Rangers security, said he was directed by the then head of the MQM Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, Hammad Siddiqui, to attack Ali Enterprises.

Following which, added Bhola, he, Charya and others had doused the factory with a chemical that caught fire and spread throughout the unit.

The prime suspect’s physical remand had been extended for 10 days – until December 29 – in the December 19 hearing at an anti-terrorism court (ATC), which is the trial court in the Baldia blaze case.

The same ATC had also ordered arresting absconder Siddiqui through Interpol and produce him before the court.

Interpol had picked up the prime suspect on December 2 from a hotel in Nana, a red-light district in Thai capital Bangkok.

A team of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency brought him to Karachi on December 13.

Two days later, the Sindh Home Department issued a notification of forming a joint interrogation team (JIT) to grill him.

The JIT has already submitted its report to the ATC. According to the team’s investigation, Bhola had admitted starting the devastating fire.

The prime suspect had told the JIT that Siddiqui had demanded extortion and shares in the factory from the owners, but when the owners refused to comply, a hit was ordered on the unit.

The court once again issued warrants for Siddiqui and adjourned the hearing until January 12. It also ordered arresting the accused through Interpol.

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