Tuesday April 16, 2024

Baldia factory fire, an act of terrorism not accident: JIT recommends filing new FIRs against accused

By Faraz Khan
July 07, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday released the 26-page Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report of the Baldia factory tragedy that claimed hundreds of innocent lives.

The JIT in its conclusive report stated that the Baldia Town factory inferno incident was ‘a terrorism act’, rejecting it as an accident where more than 250 people had been burnt alive on September 11, 2012 in Karachi. The investigators revealed in the report that the factory had been torched by assailants over non-payment of Rs200 million as extortion money.

According to the JIT copy obtained by The News, the factory fire was not an accident but it was an act of terrorism. “The fire was started in the factory for non-payment of Rs200 million as extortion money,” the JIT report reads.

“Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee head Hammad Siddiqui and Rehman Bhola demanded extortion money from the factory owner. After the factory owners refused to pay the money, the MQM members burned the factory down.”

The report also included the testimony of accused Rizwan Qureshi in which he revealed that Hammad Siddiqui, an MQM party high official and in-charge of the Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC), demanded an amount of Rs200 million from the owner of Ali Enterprise through his frontman Rehman Bhola in 2012. However, the factory owner went to Asghar Baig, MQM sector in-charge of Baldia town, at that time, and made him aware of the demand.

Asghar Baig along with his brother Majid Baig arranged a meeting between the factory owners and Hammad Siddiqui. The meeting was also attended by Farooq Saleem, joint in-charge of KTC. The factory owners refused to pay the extortion money and exchanged harsh words with MQM leaders.

While revealing the chilling details, the JIT report further stated that incendiary chemicals were used to burn down the factory that caught fire quickly and that gates were shut down to prevent workers from escaping the factory.

It is pertinent to mention here that the initial investigation had not mentioned about the extortion money anywhere in the FIR or in the investigation. The JIT has also recommended withdrawing the previous FIRs and filing new FIRs under terrorism provisions in its report and also recommended including the names of Rehman Bhola, Hammad Siddiqui, Zubair Charia in the new FIR.

The JIT has also recommended including the names of Umar Hassan Qadri, Dr Abdul Sattar, Ali Hassan Qadri, Iqbal Abid Khanum and four unknown persons in the FIR, recommending the cancellation of their passports and putting their names on the Exit Control List.

had failed to investigate the case in the right direction. The police have been accused of hiding the real characters involved in the mass killing of innocent people.

On September 11, 2012, a fire broke out in a garments factory in Baldia Town that burnt 289 people alive and severely injured more than 600 people. The JIT report that has investigated this incident was finally released by the Sindh government. The JIT, after holding six sessions in the factory, carefully examining the ruins, and collecting accounts of eyewitnesses including the employees of the factory, has nullified the previous investigations and concluded that the fire wasn’t an accident but a deliberate act of terrorism.

The then DIGP CIA Sindh Sultan Ali Khowaja was the chairman of the JIT, DIG East Zone Munir Ahmed Sheikh, Colonel Sajjad Bashir of Sindh Rangers, Additional Director FIA Altaf Hussain, SSP East Pir Muhammad Shah, SP Site Sajid Sadozai and representatives of the intelligence agencies were the members of the JIT. The report was signed by officers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies who have contributed in the investigation of the factory fire case.

According to the report, the fire was unnatural and had multiple origins simultaneously as per forensic reports. The report also declared refusal to pay extortion money to MQM as a motive for this terror activity. The fire was started in the factory for non-payment of Rs200 million as extortion money.

“In view of the foregoing discussion, technical reports and eye-witnesses accounts, the JIT is of the unananimous opinion that the incident was not an accidental one. Rather it was a terrorist and sabotage human activity that might have been caused by use of some chemical accelerant,” it stated.The JIT has also criticised the role of the police, which