Baldia factory fire: Families claim they knew who was involved since day one

Published: February 8, 2015
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We knew since day one that it was about extortion, says father of one of the victims. PHOTO: REUTERS

We knew since day one that it was about extortion, says father of one of the victims. PHOTO: REUTERS

We knew since day one that it was about extortion, says father of one of the victims. PHOTO: REUTERS The Baldia factory fire erupted on September 11, 2012, and claimed the lives of more than 250 factory workers. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/FILE
KARACHI: 

Families of the victims who lost their lives in the Baldia factory fire claim that they knew the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was involved before a report produced in the Sindh High Court (SHC) became public knowledge.

Relatives said that they were aware of how and why it had happened but decided to remain silent. “We knew since day one that it was about extortion,” said Owais*, father of Muhammad Jahanzaib, a machine operator who was one of the 259 people burned alive in the fire at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012. “The culprits should be punished.”

Shoaib* lost his wife in the fire and has been bringing up their two daughters alone. “Many of those who died belonged to Urdu-speaking families and were affiliated with the party,” he said. “If the charges against the MQM are true, then the party should be banned.”

Trade unionist Nasir Mansoor said that if the report was correct, then culprits associated with the party should be punished. “The owners are also responsible as people died due to lack of safety measures.” He added that the factory had no emergency exists and the gates to the factory were closed at the time of the incident. Mansoor claimed that it looked like the owners wanted to free themselves from any blame.

The families also expressed disappointment with the Sindh and federal government, claiming that two and a half years had passed but they had not received any justice. “The compensation promised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif  and a real estate tycoon has not reached us yet,” said a woman who lost her husband.

The MQM responds

While talking to The Express Tribune, the party’s Rabita Committee said that it had no connection with Rizwan Qureshi, the man named in the report by the joint investigation team (JIT) on Friday. Qureshi informed the law enforcers and the investigation team about who had carried out the plan and how on information he had received from a former sector in-charge.

“The MQM has hundreds of workers. Anyone can pretend to be a party worker and use our name,” said a committee official. “The party has zero tolerance policy for extortionists, terrorists and criminals.” The party appealed to the media not to identify the culprit as a worker of the MQM.

Politicking

The MQM’s involvement in the Baldia factory fire will pose as a real challenge to the prime minister, said the chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) during a press conference on Saturday.

The JI chief added that families of the deceased and survivors were still waiting for justice from the provincial government which had a habit of ‘sweeping facts under the carpet’. “The nation deserves to know the answers. They need to know why the JIT’s report was kept secret for two and a half years,” said Haq.

The Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s chief Afaq Ahmed also held a press conference on Saturday and claimed that he had evidence which showed that the MQM was involved in the Baldia fire.

While speaking at Karachi Press Club, he said that the plan to set the factory on fire was hatched at Governor House. He added that the fire did not start due to a short-circuit as it was initially suggested.  He claimed that he was willing to share the information he had if the government asked him.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Atta
    Feb 8, 2015 - 3:18AM

    All Rubbish, Can we ever establishment – they are treating Karachi as India is treating Kashmir, Israel is treating philistine and we treated Bengali……………………

    Police and Ranger are very efficient in finding culprits where someone other than MQM supporter or member died but what about killing of urdu speaking and MQM member. Have we ever found anyone…….. more then 90% killing in Karachi relates to MQM supporters but where is JIT for these ——————- Ranger and policy is rubbish of what they are doing

    We were killing Bengali in 1970s and our establishment were able to blame Awami League for the mass murder ————– Pakistan has been killed by these hypocrite, unfortunately. Recommend

  • Atta
    Feb 8, 2015 - 3:19AM

    All Rubbish, Can we ever establishment – they are treating Karachi as India is treating Kashmir, Israel is treating philistine and we treated Bengali……………………

    Police and Ranger are very efficient in finding culprits where someone other than MQM supporter or member died but what about killing of urdu speaking and MQM member. Have we ever found anyone…….. more then 90% killing in Karachi relates to MQM supporters but where is JIT for these ——————- Ranger and policy is rubbish of what they are doing

    We were killing Bengali in 1970s and our establishment were able to blame Awami League for the mass murder —–Recommend

  • Awais Hameed
    Feb 8, 2015 - 4:02AM

    Who cares? Did SHC order comprehensive action on such gruesome revelations? Did Sindh government initiated any action? Did anybody from Federal government to PTI, atleast say what they should have said? Instead, Rehman Malik is flying to London to meet Altaf Husain and bring MQM back into government. Ishrat ul Ibad has contacted Ishaq Dar regarding upcoming senate election. So life is normal for all in power, for those who should give some reapect to public sentiments. From Sharjeel Memon to Pervez Rasheed, who counter Imran Khan’s statements on hourly basis, nobody could utter a single word. Karachi gave Imran a boost in elections but he also failed them by limiting himself to a tweet. All ofnthem have politically compromised. Unless their own interest is on stake, they do not come to life. After Shireen Mizari, only JI has criticized MQM openly.Recommend

  • khalid
    Feb 8, 2015 - 9:22AM

    @Atta:
    We all know who is responsible that is mqm
    Mr Rizwan quershi is the first cousin of Altaf Hussain

    It is mentioned in their own website

    http://mqm.org/English-news/Feb-1999/news-1999-02-01a.htmRecommend

  • khalid
    Feb 8, 2015 - 9:22AM

    The men who said burnt the factory was no other than the first cousin of Altaf Hussain

    It is mentioned in their own website

    http://mqm.org/English-news/Feb-1999/news-1999-02-01a.htmRecommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 8, 2015 - 11:56AM

    @khalid:
    There are thousands of people living in Karachi with that name.Recommend

  • AVMPolpot
    Feb 8, 2015 - 12:37PM

    ” “The compensation promised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a real estate tycoon has not reached us yet,” ”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    shame.Recommend

  • JD
    Feb 8, 2015 - 2:02PM

    @Atta:
    Are you delusional ? Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 8, 2015 - 7:21PM

    Just by puting one name you cannot make families knw MQM was involved.Recommend

  • Karachi Wala
    Feb 8, 2015 - 10:24PM

    What a silly subject line? Why media biased against MQM?Recommend

  • Urban Legend
    Feb 9, 2015 - 2:18PM

    Keep watching and you will see PPP continue to use all its might and bring all kinds of cases against MQM. People of other provinces, with all their hate deep in their hearts, will continue to believe PPP! Recommend

  • straightshooter
    Feb 9, 2015 - 3:48PM

    Seems like the fifth column will stop asking for martial law in Sindh for now.Recommend

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