KARACHI: As the police drop key murder charges against the owners of the Baldia factory and modern technology fails to determine the identity of 21 victims even though five months have passed, their relatives have finally agreed on a mass burial.
The families of 21 labourers whose bodies were charred beyond recognition in the country’s worst industrial fire have sought an order from the court to carry out the last rites of their loved ones.
The families presented a request for permission for mass burial to the Sindh High Court. The court is already hearing identical petitions for a judicial inquiry into the tragic incident.
According to the official record, 259 workers were burnt alive when the ISO-certified Ali Enterprises in Baldia town caught fire on September 11, 2012. Nearly 21 bodies remain unidentified as the DNA tests have failed. The court has given repeated orders for the authorities to expedite the process.
The families handed over to the court a list of names of unidentified victims: Sharjeel Ahmed, Ubaidullah, Mohammad Akmal, Mehmood Shah, Riaz Ahmed, Samina Javed, Sohail, Rubab Sumaira, Waqar Ahmed, Mohammad Waseem, Adil Khan, Kamaluddin, Saeed Munawar, Asif Aziz, Rafiqun Nisa, Mohammad Tufail, Danish, Shamsul Islam and Mohammad Javed.
We have yet to offer their funeral prayers and bury them, they added.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan are among those who went to court seeking a judicial inquiry into the fire to affix responsibility and suggest monetary compensation for the heirs.
This week, two of the three factory owners – Arshad Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his brother Shahid Abdul Aziz Bhaila – were granted bail along with two employees. The trial court has yet to decide the fate of the investigator’s recommendation to exclude the premeditated murder charge against the Bhaila brothers, their father Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and their employees.
On Wednesday, Justice Maqbool Baqar, while heading the bench, issued notices to the Advocate General of Sindh, the factory owners, various human rights organizations and others to file their replies by February 15.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.