For many people in Karachi the tragedy of the Baldia factory fire ended soon after. But for some families, every day the disaster reminds them of their loves ones, who haven’t been identified or worse, found yet.
Twenty-two days after the inferno at Ali Enterprises where 258 workers were burnt alive, 39 bodies are still unrecognisable, unidentified and unclaimed at the Edhi morgue at Sohrab Goth.
On Wednesday, trade unionists and family members of the victims called on the government to issue the DNA reports of the unidentified victims immediately or they would set up a protest camp outside the press club.
“For the past 22 days, the families have been struggling to find the bodies, but neither the hospitals nor any institution is helping them,” said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan, while speaking at a news conference along with the bereaved family members.
In the first week after the tragedy, the DNA samples of 73 relatives of the victims were taken and the families were told to wait for 15 days for the results. “The authorities have extended the date by another 15 days without any reason, which has disturbed the families,” Mansoor added.
He also questioned the sampling of 73 people when there were only 39 bodies at the morgue. “Where are the rest of the 34 bodies?”
The prime minister, a private company and Nawaz Sharif had announced compensation packages for the heirs of all those who died in the fire but some families have still not received any support. More than 35 people were injured in the inferno that rendered about 1,300 people jobless. “They have not been compensated and are now starving,” the trade unionist claimed.
The family members should also be heard by the tribunal investigating the case because they know better about their family members who were burnt to ashes, Mansoor suggested.
Besides the factory owners, the three ruling parties – Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party – are equally responsible for the tragedy, he alleged. “Ali Enterprises prepared products for a German company named KIK, which is also responsible for the workers deaths and should help their families,” he added.
Like many others, Sohrab Khalid is also waiting for the DNA result. His brother Amer Aftab was one of the victims of the factory fire but his body hasn’t been found yet.
“The hospital authorities took a DNA sample from my mother and now she is waiting to see her son for the last time,” Khalid said while taking to The Express Tribune. “We have been going from hospital to hospital and from one police station to another, but our DNA sample has not matched with any of the bodies.”
The chief mechanic of the garment factory, Imran, also died in the fire. His wife had to ask Imran’s brother to come to Karachi from Punjab to give his DNA sample, as the authorities refused to take the DNA samples of their son.
“I have no idea where to go and what to do to find my husband. I want to see him to make sure that he is dead,” she said at the press conference.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2012.