KARACHI: Acting on a plea filed by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, a district and sessions court on Tuesday issued notice to the Civil Lines SHO for his failure to book the Sindh chief minister, cabinet members and officers for the casualties due to the lethal heatwave in the city.
PTI deputy secretary-general Imran Ismail pleaded the South district's top judge to direct the Civil Lines SHO to set the law in motion by immediately registering a case against provincial CM Qaim Ali Shah, local bodies minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, health minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator Saqib Soomro, provincial disaster management authority head Suleman Shah and others.
Ismail contended that over 2,000 people had died in the city due to the apathy, negligence and incompetence of the provincial government. He pointed out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations, had issued a report a year ago, warning that temperatures would further increase in the country.
Claiming that the accused 'deliberately and intentionally' failed to take any precautionary steps despite the warning, he said that no awareness campaign was initiated for the public prior to the heatwave and nor did the health department come up with a plan to cope with the higher temperature.
"The departments of Zakat, Baitul Mal, local government, social welfare, PDMA and others have had no role in mitigating the suffering of the people of Karachi," submitted Ismail. "On the contrary, their attitude was such that they were determined to kill thousands of people."
He stated that the accused had failed to identify high-risk localities, provide easy access to drinking water or shelter for outdoor workers, make efforts to generate electricity or prepare an early warning system to help the city's residents.
"The people were left on the mercy of charity organisations," he told the court. "Neither were there adequate arrangements in the hospitals to treat the heatstroke victims nor was there space in the mortuaries and graveyards." While people were dying, he added, the CM and others were arranging an Iftar party, oblivious to the sufferings of the masses.
In the document submitted to the court, Ismail suggested that the Heat Health project developed by the city of Ahmedabad in India, which faces similar temperatures, could be a possible model for addressing the issue. "The Ahmedabad Heat Health Plan has been recognised globally for its success and was named one of the top 20 projects at the Sendai Conference of Disaster Risk Reduction earlier this year," he disclosed.
Through his attorney, Sheikh Jawed Mir, Ismail told the court that the Civil Lines SHO had refused to register a case under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 322 (punishment for qatl-bis-sabab, causing death unintentionally) and 109 (abetting crime) of the Pakistan Penal Code despite being legally bound to do so.
The judge, Sikandar Ameer Pahore, issued notice to the SHO, seeking his replying by Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2015.