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April 10, 2019

‘MQM men set fire to Baldia factory over refusal to pay Rs250m’

Karachi

April 10, 2019

A prosecution witness in the Baldia garment factory arson attack case on Tuesday deposed that the factory was set on fire by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders and activists over the non-payment of extortion money of Rs250 million.

MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, former sector incharge Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola, Zubair, alias Charya, and other party activists are being prosecuted by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) for their alleged involvement in the Baldia arson attack.

A production incharge of the factory deposed before the ATC that the MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) had demanded Rs250 million as extortion from the factory owners.

He said that Zubair was approached to reduce the extortion amount to Rs10 million, but he refused and threatened the factory owner of dire consequences if the original demand was not met. The witness said that the accused set the factory on fire over the non-payment of the extortion money.

The court also recorded the statement of the judicial magistrate who had recorded the statements of the accused. After recording the statements of the prosecution witnesses, the ATC adjourned the hearing.

Main accused Rehman had admitted in a confessional statement that the Baldia garment factory was set on fire on the order of former KTC incharge Hammad Siddiqui over the non-payment of Rs250 million as extortion money by the factory owners.

Around 260 factory workers were burnt alive while many others were injured on September 11, 2012, when the factory was set on fire by the accused over the non-payment of the extortion money.

Ranjhani murder case

The administrative judge of the ATCs in Karachi accepted the charge sheet of the police in the Irshad Ranjhani murder case and sent the case to the ATC-XVIII for the disposal of the trial in accordance with the law.

Abdul Raheem Shah, a union council chairman from Malir, has been charge-sheeted by the police for murdering Ranjhani on the pretext of self-defence during an attempted robbery.

Ranjhani’s family claimed that Shah had killed him on February 6 in the Shah Latif Town police jurisdiction by falsely portraying him as a robber.

The investigating officer submitted in the charge sheet that an Edhi ambulance driver named Abid Rasheed had mentioned in his statement to the police that Ranjhani was taken in the ambulance in an injured condition to the police station for further direction by the police.

He said that he saw Shah talking with the sub-inspector separately at the police station, adding that constable Altaf Hussain and sub-inspector Ali Gohar went with him in the ambulance.

He said that as soon as they left the police station, Shah came with another person on a motorcycle and intercepted the ambulance, adding that he talked with the sub-inspector and later fired on Ranjhani through the backside of the vehicle.

The IO said that during the investigation it had been established that accused Shah, absconding co-accused Gohar and Hussain were involved in Ranjhani’s murder.

The officer said that no evidence had been found against DSP Shaukat Ali Shahani and Hasan Ali Shah for implicating him in the offence. The judge accepted the charge sheet and sent the case to the ATC-XVIII for its disposal in accordance with the law.

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