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February 15, 2018

Rauf Siddiqui among 10 suspects indicted in Baldia factory fire case


February 15, 2018

The Baldia factory fire case took a new turn on Wednesday as an anti-terrorism court (ATC), housed inside the city’s central prison, framed charges against former provincial minister and senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Rauf Siddiqui, along with key accused Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, Zubair alias Charya and seven others.

As the charges were read out in front of the accused, they all pleaded not guilty. Subsequently, the court fixed February 17 to start trial proceedings. However, another accused, former MQM leader Hammad Siddiqui, who is accused of ordering the arson attack, has not been produced before the court yet. Pakistani authorities have, though, moved him back to the country following his arrest in Dubai.

It may be mentioned that Rauf Siddiqui had been made duty-bound to appear for hearings of the Baldia factory fire case. More than 250 workers were killed on September 11, 2012, when a massive fire broke out in a garment factory, Ali Enterprises, in SITE industrial area.

The factory was allegedly set ablaze on the owners’ refusal to pay extortion money. The Rangers’ prosecutor had taken the plea that Siddiqui was involved in the matter and should be included as an accused.

The former minister, however, had denied the charges while referring to the police report that had not included him as an accused. Including the former lawmaker, several accused have already been granted interim bail in this case.

Rauf Siddiqui, Adeeb Khanum and Dr Abdul Sattar were asked by the trial court to appear and file their written replies to the court’s query to include them in the case. Two other accused, Umer Hassan Qadri and Ali Hassan Qadri, were also summoned by the court.

However, Ali Hassan Qadri fled away and was eventually declared proclaimed offender. Besides, Adeeb Khanum and Dr Abdul Sattar were also summoned. Advocate Hassan Sabir while defending the bail pleas of his two clients had argued that Adeeb Khanum and Dr Abdul Sattar had been declared innocent in the charge sheet submitted by the police and they deserved to be granted bail. The court had granted interim bail in the sum of Rs100,000 (each) to these two accused. Abdul Rehman alias Rehman Bhola, who was also indicted along with his two accomplices in the 2010murder case of five people, is also a key accused in the Baldia factory fire case.

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