By Sarah Khan
More than three years have passed after the tragic inferno at Baldia Town but culprits remain unidentified much like most of the other cases in the country which involves crimes by influential political workers. Such is the irony with regards to the country’s worst industrial disaster that the investigation has yet to determine whether it was an intentional act of sabotage or an accident.
Over 250 workers perished inside the locked premises of the Ali Enterprises, in Baldia on September 11, 2012. Almost four years on, three investigation reports later, the case is still directionless. Initially, the case was registered by incorporating sections of premeditated murder against the factory owners, manager and other employees for their alleged negligence in managing the evacuation process during the fire and not providing a safe exit.
The Baldia Town factory inferno case took a dramatic turn in February 2015 when a report by Rangers claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was behind the deadly fire that claimed the lives of at least 258 factory workers.
The report prepared by a joint investigation team (JIT) was submitted to the Sindh High Court by an additional attorney general. The statement said the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad RizwanQureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his front man from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.
The suspect said the KTC (Karachi Tanzeemi Committee) men had ordered Bhola to collect Rs200m as protection money from the factory owners. When the factory owners refused to pay the money, Bhola and his accomplices set the factory on fire by throwing chemical substances, according to the suspect. He further added that the CID had raided the house of the suspended sector in-charge and arrested his brother Majid who was later released after the MQM pressurized the factory owners to issue a statement that he was not involved in the incident. The suspect claimed that he had obtained all this information from the former sector in-charge of BaldiaTown.
The perpetrators of the tragic inferno i.e. MQM activists named by Sindh Interior Ministry must be brought to justices after JIT report on the incident. All political parties including the one in power should be accountable for their actions. Murderers should be punished harshly so that a precedent is set and no political party should even in their wildest dream can commit even a minor crime let alone massacre.