The 2012 Baldia factory fire was a planned terror activity involving some key members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) over non-payment of extortion, the court hearing the matter was formally told on Saturday.
As many as 260 workers were burnt to death while around 100 wounded in the blaze that gutted the Ali Enterprises garment factory located in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.
A fresh report by a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted last March says the incident was an act of arson.
Hammad Siddiqui, a former local leader of the MQM, is the main culprit, says the report. He is alleged to have directed the whole episode to wreak vengeance on the factory owners for their refusal to pay Rs250 million as protection money and awarding him partnership in the company’s profits.
Siddiqui, through his front man, Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, approached the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, states the report. The Bhailas, however, showed reluctance over paying the huge sum and instead offered Rs10 million, which the alleged extortionists did not accept. An infuriated Siddiqui then ordered Rehman to set the factory on fire ‘in order to teach the owners a lesson’, maintains the report.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2016.