Karachi factory fire: Court grants bail to factory owners

Published: September 14, 2012

Arshad Bhaila and his brother Shahid Bhaila talking to the media outside Sindh High Court's circuit bench in Larkana on Friday. PHOTO: EXPRESS

SUKKUR: The three factory owners facing murder charges for the deaths of over 250 people in their garment factory fire were granted protective bail till September 21 by the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) circuit bench Larkana on Friday.

Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila had appeared before the court through their lawyer Abid Mansoob Qureshi.

Reports said that the single bench, comprising Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi, after hearing the application of Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, granted protective bail to them till September 21 for Rs500,000 each.

The court, according to reports, has directed the Interior ministry to place their names on the Exit Control List (ECL), besides ordering the applicants to appear before the investigative officer in Karachi at 9am on Saturday.

The court also directed them to hand over their passports to the reader of the concerned court in Karachi.

Later, talking to the media outside the court premises, Arshad Bhaila said: “I don’t know how the fire started in the factory.”

According to him, the fire started in the warehouse of the factory and as soon as he came to know about it, he immediately called the fire brigade, which took one and half hour to reach the spot.

“The fire tenders had too little water to extinguish the fire and went for refilling to Sakhi Hassan,” said Arshad.

He added that he and his sons remained in the factory till midnight but then an “important person” asked them to leave the premises.

When asked about who the person was and how they had contacted him, he refused to disclose any details.

Replying to a query about whether anybody had done this at their refusal to provide extortion money, Arshad said, “I don’t want to say anything about this.”

He, however, made it clear that there was nothing wrong with the factory and everything was according to factory bylaws.

Expressing his heart felt sorrow over the death of such a large number of workers; he said that their families would be compensated according to the factory and labour laws.

“We have sought this bail because we want to be with our workers who are injured and we want to mitigate their sufferings,” he added.

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Reader Comments (35)

  • Indian Wisdom
    Sep 14, 2012 - 3:30PM

    “Karachi factory fire: Court bails factory owners”

    Great!!! This is, what was expected…

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  • citizen
    Sep 14, 2012 - 4:12PM

    what ?? non bailable arrest warrants should have been issued . Worthlessness of human life is just amazing in Pakistan . Where is CJ now to take suo moto action ?

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  • Zubair Ali
    Sep 14, 2012 - 4:15PM

    That’s right – put the blame squarely at the feet of the owners and wash your hands. It’s easier than suggesting the local and national authorities should take some responsibility for this tragedy, due to a complete lack of proper enforcement of safety rules and governance.

    The real criminals are the authorities, who allowed the industrialists get away with abysmal safety standards.

    Isn’t it time we asked what the ministry regulating this sector (manufacturing) actually does for a living? and how exactly how does this ministry ensure the thousands of other private sector factories are equally safe to work in?

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  • Khan of Cape Town
    Sep 14, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Looking at the performance of our courts, they have become a laughingstock. Who will believe in Pakistani courts, when people like Hafiz Saeed, Malik Ishaaq also claim that the courts have exonerated them.

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  • HH
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:12PM

    One sane reply in this forum by @Zubair Ali. Investigate the agencies, owners, as well as the fire department as to why it took 1.5 hours to reach the site.

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  • Karim
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:32PM

    Bail granted by Larkana Bench……………….incident occured in Karachi………………where is the Jurisdiction Issue?

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  • psychedelic
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:41PM

    By trying to inflame the theory of “bhatta khors” setting fire to the factory, the owners of the factory are trying to divert attention from the fact that a) There were no fire safety measures and b) The gates were closed down. Cancel their bail and put them in solitary confinement till the hearing.

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  • peace for all
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:44PM

    It is apprehension that all work done by BAHTAH MAFIA, which will confirm by owner if they were threaten by somebody and may be they also know them. Owner has been granted bail by Honorable court which encourage him to cooperate with concerned authorities to find out the fact of big tragedy for nation.

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  • Shahid Butt
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:44PM

    Did they surrender their PASSPORT? BAIL should have been RS100MILLION(10 crore) each and not RS 5 lakh.Court should have also frozen their property and both personal and bussiness accounts till the settlements of the claims.They should freeze the personal accounts of all members of BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

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  • sgrr
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Now analyze the statement of owner, “According to him, the fire started in the warehouse of the factory and as soon as he came to know about it, he immediately called the fire brigade, strong textwhich took one and half hour to reach the spot.”

    As per the cctv footage fire started at 6:56 pm. Ref: http://jang.com.pk/jang/sep2012-daily/14-09-2012/u120601.htm

    At 7:20, jang filed the news that snarkle was there to rescue the people. http://jang.com.pk/jang/sep2012-daily/11-09-2012/u120297.htm

    How to believe the claims of owner.

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  • Raw is War
    Sep 14, 2012 - 5:47PM

    money can work wonders.

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  • Shabbir
    Sep 14, 2012 - 6:01PM

    If no lessons are learnt from this incident, than the lives of these 250+ ppl has into waste. I believe government is not sincere in fixing the responsibility. Otherwise the first and foremost action would have been to sack following;

    Head of Labour department like Director labor (alas he has been assigned to investigate)-Imagine responsible person is investigating!!!
    Head of Civil defence department, who inspect safety of the premises
    Head of electrical safety department who inspect electrification of premises
    District Government responsible head for Emergency response like fire brigadiers

    Putting responsibility on labour inspectors, junior officers will not help any way. It is the higher officials negligence which results in such kind of desastors. It is hightime we learn some lessons from this nightmare to safeguard our work forces.

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  • sgrr
    Sep 14, 2012 - 6:31PM

    @shahid Butt
    Under which law???

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  • Angry citizen
    Sep 14, 2012 - 6:44PM

    Even this time nothing will happen. People will forget about this incident very soon.
    Everything will be washed out. This is PAKISTAN. DEAD PAKISTAN.

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  • Yo!!
    Sep 14, 2012 - 6:56PM

    He added that he and his sons remained in the factory till midnight but then an “important person” asked them to leave the premises.
    When asked about who the person was and how they had contacted him, he refused to disclose any details.

    ..and some parties wanted to call off the strike the other day; connect the dots and it makes SENSE! They dont care about how many dies; they just care to show they “RULE” there!

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  • observer
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:06PM

    An innocent mentally challenged teenager gets arrested and gets bail for Rs 1 million after a month.

    Another person responsible for 300 deaths does not get arrested and is bailed for Rs 5,00,000 only.

    Azad Adalia- Pakistan Style.

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  • rashid khan
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:15PM

    Interesting! The owners of a factory that earns millions of dollars through its exports and whose negilence towards the safety of thier workers led to the loss of more than two and fifty lives are granted bail for a paltry amount ot Rs500,000.
    Its a sign of things to come, they’ll be let off with a light sentence, and we will soon forget the carnage and human destruction cause by their greed.
    Remember two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each were posted for the release of Rimsha Masih for her release, it was a huge amount for the poor family but in this case its peanuts for these multi millionares.
    This is a subtle indicator of the justice that is to be meted out

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  • Azi
    Sep 14, 2012 - 7:56PM

    This is how things work in Pakistan, no value of life. Money is everything, bad justice we are the champions of corruption.Recommend

  • kanwal
    Sep 14, 2012 - 8:15PM

    What a downright lie from these culprits! Imagine those grilled windows and blocked fire exits. I saw the fire plan posted on the wall and thats completely unacceptible had these men been working in a developed country. How can you put less than 5 extinguishers in a premises as big and congested as their factory? I have more than 5 extinguishers in an area roughly 5% of their factory in my workplace in London. And thats just my floor. It is impossible to consider these owners as not being sentenced to death for letting their employees working in these conditions. Only possible in the land of the pure though. I have just seen videos of religious parties demonstrating against an unimportant film made somewhere. They are way too busy to realise the biggest enemies of humanisties roam their own cities day and night. Poor victims will never get justice.

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  • Mirza
    Sep 14, 2012 - 8:16PM

    The victims and their families need money and lots of it. What would they gain by hanging the owners except starvation? First of all, the assets of owners be frozen by the courts. Then provide max help to the families then decide the case which can take years. By no means I am with the owners and have no connection or love for them. However, I want to help the victims and their families first.

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  • Midhat
    Sep 14, 2012 - 8:20PM

    The blame is on the authorities. Every where in the world, its the authorities that make the rules and regulations and enforces them through inspections etc. If factories dont meet the standards their lisence gets cancelled. Do we have any codes and standards and does the Govt. Inspect all new/ old units?

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  • Sharjeel Jawaid
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:09PM

    Justice appears to be truly blind!

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  • ASQ
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:11PM

    what’s all the fuss about bail??bail will automatically be revoked if any condition of bail is not followed,it’s not like court has acquitted them and also in most case it’s the fault of prosecutor for not presenting the case which can stand the trial so culprits go free!!

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  • realist
    Sep 14, 2012 - 9:53PM

    Tha bail was quick. Tell me again, after how many days Rimsha got the bail?

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  • Fawad
    Sep 14, 2012 - 10:17PM

    Pakistani ppl not in a mood to change their lives. Allah(swt) is watching upon us and will make changes if don’t act now.

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  • Hairaan
    Sep 14, 2012 - 11:21PM

    @observer:
    Your point is valid but please stop claiming her to be mentally challanged to gather public sympathies.

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  • Zubair Ahmed
    Sep 15, 2012 - 12:15AM

    Pakistan’s ‘azaad’ judiciary granted protective bail to the factory owners responsible for the Karachi factory carnage and murdering of 259. It is interesting that the owners of a factory who earn millions of dollars and whose negligence towards the safety measures around the factory led to the loss of 259 lives were granted bail for an insignificant amount of Rs500000.
    It is also significant that the bail was granted by the Sindh High Court Larkana bench. It seems that the culprits would have ‘managed’ to get a bail from the Sindh High Court in Karachi failing which they approached Larkana registry which granted the bail. This act of the apex court rise many questions about the role of the judiciary in Pakistan. People are talking about that a mentally retarded teenage girl gets bail for 1 million rupees after a month of arrest. One million rupees was a huge amount for her poor family. In factory carnage case the culprits were not arrested and granted a quick bail in the same day for a very small amount of half million rupees which was nothing but a peanut for these multi millionaires who were responsible for over 259 deaths.
    People are demanding the bail should revoke and an enquiry be initiated against the judge who granted the bail. Pakistani apex judiciary already has lost its reputation and this kind of incidents may lead to a total collapse of the judicial system of Pakistan.

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  • SAK
    Sep 15, 2012 - 12:39AM

    The factory owners are not responsible for this. Those who did it will never be brought to justice.

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  • Sep 15, 2012 - 1:09AM

    just got into tears when i saw this on tv. so undone by the owners

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  • sarthy
    Sep 15, 2012 - 1:42AM

    Guys, its sad to see so much anger among the generation that was spared the worst of partition. lets change things. the tragedy is too huge to even comment upon, so lets mourn in respect for the departed souls.

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  • Ghazanfar Ghori
    Sep 15, 2012 - 2:24AM

    To all those who think that the factory owner should be penalized, please imagine yourself to his position and realize that even after suffering from such a huge loss, he’s paying the blood money to the families of the victims. It was an accident and could have been anywhere.

    The wages of the labor were being distributed due to which the gates of the factory were locked way BEFORE the ignition of fire. And it’s the policy of many companies to lock the gates keeping in mind the law-and-order situation of our country.

    Before this fire, the owner was an employer of 2000 people in a country where there is severe unemployment and poverty. He has suffered a huge loss up till now which is enough to teach all the industrialists a lesson to take safety measures in their factories.

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  • nadia zaki
    Sep 15, 2012 - 5:31AM

    i may be the only one who thinks this way, but cut the factory owners some slack. they werent the ones who burnt down their own factory and certainly did not want all of their own workers dead. shouldn’t the focus be more on who actually set the fire and got those innocent people killed?

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  • sgrr
    Sep 15, 2012 - 3:49PM

    The difference in two bails were the applicability of law. In this case the Violation of factory act, labour ordinance and electricty act were involved while in other case the blasphemy act is involved. Furthre it may be clarified that registration of FIR under section 302 of CrPc is just to fool the people as it never be proved and the court will set aside the FIR in the first proper hearing of the case.

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  • Sara
    Sep 15, 2012 - 6:37PM

    At least the factory owners came back to face the music. What about all the other deaths and tragedies – Bhoja Air, hundreds of bus and truck accidents, that take place daily? Was anybody ever arrested or sentenced? How about the people who were dragged and shot because of their religious status? Will anybody ever catch their murderers?

    These factory owners came or were forced back- even though the press was ready to crucify them. It was a terrible tragedy and shows the vulnerability of the system.

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  • Asif
    Sep 16, 2012 - 5:14PM

    SGRR : CCTV shows fire starting on 1st Floor at 6:56pm and Jang shows fire fighters were there at 7:20. Even if that’s true, fire started in the warehouse which was in the basement and it must have taken quite some time to spread from basement to ground floor and then to the first floor. Hence it’s highly possible that owners are right.

    We should all stop being detectives, especially the media should exhibit responsible journalism. We cannot investigate And we can certainly not conduct a public trial. Owners are being very responsible and facing everything with courage. They are also the victims of the negligence of SITE limited, SITE fire department and the government in general. They lost all that was gradually built in last 20 years with tremendous hard work.

    Government should compensate the worker’s families and also the owners of the factory. Site industrialists are one of the major contributors to Pakistan in terms of income taxes, property taxes and jobs but in return what do they get : Extortion, threats, No roads, No emergency services, No fire fighting services, no water and no law and order.

    Not only the industries minister but MD SITE LTD, Chief of SITE Fire dept, should also immediately resign and this incident should be thoroughly and professionally investigated.Recommend

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