The reinvestigation into the Baldia factory fire case has been completed and the report is being submitted to the provincial home department for approval.
This was stated on Monday by SP Sajid Amir Sudozai, who is the in-charge of the joint investigation team formed in March last year, before the additional district and sessions judge Maqbool Memon. Over 250 workers perished inside the locked premises of Ali Enterprises in Baldia on September 11, 2012.
The contents of the report, revealed at a previous hearing, suggested the possibility of involvement of some members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the fire including former Karachi Tanzimi Committee in-charge Hammad Siddiqui, former Rabita Committee member Farooq Saleem, former sector in-charge Abdul Rehman alias Bhola. According to the police, the suspects have fled the country and efforts for their repatriation are underway.
Initially, the case was registered by incorporating sections of premeditated murder against the factory owners for their alleged negligence in managing the evacuation process. However, a dramatic confession about the blaze came to the forefront as the Rangers submitted a joint investigation team report to the Sindh High Court. The report quoted an absconding suspect, Rizwan Qureshi, who claimed that the factory was set on fire by men affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement over non-payment of extortion money. Three years on, the trial of the case has not yet been initiated due to these controversies.
During Saturday’s hearing, the judge expressed displeasure over police performance and asked which investigation report should be considered for trial. Instead, SP Sudozai sought time until the relevant authorities give comments over the reinvestigation report. The judge remarked that the case has come to a standstill.
Meanwhile, the court inquired about the factory manager, Mansoor, who is on bail and is not appearing since a few hearings. The police said that they were unable to locate him, to which the judge directed that he should be presented on next hearing.
Currently there are eight suspects implicated in the case, all of whom are on bail.
The judge adjourned the hearing till March 5 asking the investigators to submit the report, if approved by the authorities in meantime.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.