Baldia factory fire case: Treasury bench protests dropping of murder charges on PM’s orders

Published: January 25, 2013

“The PPP is a party for the poor and labour class; it is the responsibility of the party to protect their rights,” says Rabbani. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

A fuming Raza Rabbani led a walkout from the Senate on Wednesday in protest against the prime minister’s directives to drop the murder charges against the owners of a factory in Karachi, where a fire last year caused the deaths of over 200 people.

On a point of order, Senator Rabbani from the Pakistan Peoples Party expressed deep concern over reports that section 302 had been scrapped from the FIR lodged against the owners of the Baldia Town factory, where 289 workers burnt to death on September 11, 2012.

On Wednesday, in a meeting with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had assured the business community that the murder charges against the factory owners would be dropped. This was confirmed by Minister of State for Finance Saleem Mandviwalla.

During the Upper House session, Rabbani claimed that five out of six exits of the factory had been closed off when the fire broke out and the main gate was also shut soon after.

He added that he was “shocked to hear that section 302 is being scrapped against the factory owners on the directives of the PPP prime minister”.

“The PPP is a party for the poor and labour class; it is the responsibility of the party to protect their rights,” he said.

The senator said that they had come to know that some ‘guest political actors’ had recently persuaded the prime minister to remove section 302 and had changed the investigation officer of the case as well.

“There is a double standard. When labourers went on strike for their rights in KESC, they were booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATC),” he said. “Not a single person died [in that strike], but when 280 workers were burnt to death due to the criminal negligence of an industrialist, section 302 is removed?” He felt that this should not be done by the PPP at least. “If the case is in a court of law then let the law take its course,” he added, before walking out of the house, followed by Awami National Party senators.

Leader of the House in the Senate Jahangir Badar said, however, that neither did the prime minister give any directives to remove the charges nor was it in his authority to do so. Only the chief minister was authorised to issue such directions but he did not have any information to this effect. Opposition leader Ishaq Dar echoed Rabbani’s concern and sought a detailed report into the issue from the leader of the house, which Badar assured would be presented in the Senate on Monday.

For his part, former law minister Maula Bux Chandio clarified that Section 302 had not been removed yet but that the demand had been made by the business community on the grounds that it was not applicable as there was no intention to murder.

Governor Rule

Earlier, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl and the Balochistan National Party (Awami) also staged a walkout for the third consecutive day against the imposition of Governor Rule in Balochistan.

Senator Kalsoom Perveen said that Balochistan had been singled out by the imposition of Governor Rule given that law and order issues existed in every province.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Jafar Iqbal pointed out that the Punjab governor was issuing controversial statements on breaking the Punjab into many provinces. Senator Farhatullah Babar responded by saying that the committee on the creation of new provinces had nothing to do with the governor’s statements.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Silent Spectator
    Jan 25, 2013 - 3:07AM

    Good to know that there are at least a few parliamentarians who care for the people of Pakistan, unlike the PM who wants to appease a select few at the expense of 289 dead Pakistanis.

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Ali Siiddiqui
    Jan 25, 2013 - 8:13AM

    After Al-Mighty Allah, I have full faith and confidence in the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

    I am sure that he won’t let this do happen and will make sure that section 302 should not be deleted from the FIR.

    Recommend

  • mohajir
    Jan 25, 2013 - 10:23AM

    Union leaders should call for a day’s strike. If they do.t then they dont believe i. workwrs right.

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  • Jan 25, 2013 - 11:27AM

    The death of 289 laborers is an act of pre-meditated murder and the PM says to drop murder charges? “Awam Dost party,” “Roti, Kapra aur Makaan,” “Serve the Masses.” BUNKUM. What a farce the PPP.
    Shocking! Unbelievable! Satanic! Viva Raza Rabbani and other supporters! Where is the Muttaheda at such a time? Salams 2013

    Recommend

  • HolierThanThough
    Jan 25, 2013 - 2:33PM

    The Bhaila Brothers would have ended up paying 2.9 Billion to the deceased relatives. They got a better deal… Mr. Mandviwala is 50 crore richer today.

    Recommend

  • doom
    Jan 25, 2013 - 6:09PM

    @the Skunk:
    Are you sure you know what pre-meditated means?

    Pre-meditated murder means murder that is pre-planned and therefore is intentional and in cold-blood (as opposed to killing someone on the spur of the moment in anger or killing someone accidentally). So how was the fire pre-meditated? Did the owners deliberately set the place on fire after making a plan to set the place on fire with the intention of killing all those people?

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  • Moosa Khan
    Jan 25, 2013 - 8:54PM

    CJ .. Please take one last suo moto. Its an issue of 289 lost lives without justice.

    Recommend

  • Sadia
    Jan 26, 2013 - 1:20PM

    For Gods sake ppl .. Use ur brain and stop listening to what media is making u believe .. 302 is intentional murder and all the investigation reports say that it was an accident .. No sane person will put up his factory and ppl on fire .. And all the other govt dept were also charged by 302, why they are not in jail and only the owners since 4 months ? 302 is not implicable on the owners when its proved that it was an accident and the 302 is not removed because of PM

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  • KULWANT SINGH
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:16AM

    @doom: It is negligence on the part of factory owners which took the life of 289 innocent poor workers and they must not go scot free there is no price of poor people in the eyes of the rich they are not even treated as human beings the same is the case with rich Indian businessman and politicians.

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  • Atif
    Jan 28, 2013 - 11:03AM

    @kulwant singh
    please explain what comes in negligence and what you think was negligence on the part of owners?

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