The owners, manager, supervisors and watchman of the Korangi chemical factory, where a fire had broken out on Friday and left 16 workers dead, have gone into hiding after the registration of a first information report (FIR) that accuses them of criminal negligence.
Interestingly, the manager and watchman had been on the scene when the factory was burning, and the police had also questioned them. Now, however, they are among those who are at large.
FIR No. 1182/21 has been registered on behalf of the state under Section 322/34 (Qatl-bis-Sabab) at the Korangi Industrial Area police station. Building owner Faisal, factory owner Ali Mehta, manager Imran Zaidi, supervisors Zafar and Rehan, and watchman Syed Zarin have been nominated in the FIR. However, no arrest has been made yet.
“The case has been registered against them under the criminal act,” District Korangi SSP Shahjahan Khan told The News. “But all the suspects are on the run now.”
The officer admitted that the manager and the watchman had been on the scene when the factory was burning, saying that they might not have known that they could be booked for the incident, but when the FIR was registered, they also escaped.
“The section under which the case was registered might be replaced with Section 302 [Qatl-e-Amd] during the investigation,” said the officer. “The investigation wing is now handling the case investigation, and the suspects nominated in the FIR would soon be behind bars.”
The FIR states that there was no emergency exit in the factory, and that there was only one entrance gate, because of which the incident occurred.
“No alarm system was installed at the factory,” reads the FIR. “The watchman was asked to open the lock. The building’s design resembles that of a dungeon, from where no one could get out in an emergency situation.”
At least 16 labourers were burnt and suffocated to death as a fire erupted in a luggage bags manufacturing unit in Korangi’s Mehran Town on Friday. The father of one of the young victims of the deadly blaze also died of a heart attack after seeing the body of his son at the hospital.
Police said that some 26 labourers were inside when the fire had erupted, while 16 of them had been trapped inside the factory because the gates of the unit were locked. Three brothers were also among the victims.
The factory’s workers said that there was only one way to enter and exit the building, and the fire had made it impossible to reach it. They said that the victims had run up towards the roof to save themselves but found the gate at the stairs also locked, which was why they could not survive.
In order to determine the cause of the fire, the Crime Scene Unit of the Sindh police visited the factory and collected different samples. Police said that the crime scene investigation and the samples collected from the unit would help the investigators looking into the case.
The funeral prayers of the victims were offered on Saturday, and they were later laid to rest at different graveyards. Seven of the unfortunate victims of the factory fire were residents of the old city area, and their funeral prayers were offered in the Usmanabad area of Garden and were attended by a large number of people.
The families and other relatives of the victims demanded that the government take stern action against the factory management. They also demanded compensation for the heirs of the victims because all of them belonged to lower-middle-class families.
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