Baldia factory fire: 13 workers in police custody for questioning

Published: September 16, 2012

“We have arrested about 13 people, mostly security guards and other staff, because there was so much talk about the doors being closed,” SP Amir Farooqi told The Express Tribune. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

The police have picked up 13 factory workers for questioning as part of investigations into the Baldia factory fire.

A raging blaze had swept through the garment factory on Tuesday night and claimed the lives of 258 people. The CCTV footage from inside the factory has initially indicated that the fire appears to have broken out from a spark in electric wires.

“We have arrested about 13 people, mostly security guards and other staff, because there was so much talk about the doors being closed,” SP Amir Farooqi told The Express Tribune.

The officer said that he didn’t want to divulge too many details of the investigation as they may clash or compromise the other inquiries taking place at the same time.

When asked whether the government has been cooperating with the investigators, Farooqi replied in the affirmative but said that no one has really come forward to help.

Two days ago, the police had asked the State Bank to freeze the factory owners’ accounts, which according to police officials have Rs500 million. The request has, however, not been entertained so far.

With investigators still figuring out what actually went wrong at the factory, the possibility of arson or sabotage has not been ruled out completely. “The investigation is still open at the moment,” said Farooqi. The official did not give any timeframe for the investigations to be completed, but said that if the inquiry is not completed within 14 days, then an interim report will be presented and court proceedings will begin.

The investigators are also trying to figure out exactly what violations have taken place concerning civil defence or labour laws and inspections, which will help them to create a picture of whether the negligence amounts to criminal negligence or not.

The police have recorded the statements of the owners and have called on all witnesses to step forward.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012.

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