Baldia factory tragedy case: Rehman Bhola, Zubair Charia sentenced to death, Rauf Siddiqui acquitted

Karachi Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Baldia Town Factory case sentenced Abdul Rehman alias Bhola and Zubair alias Charia to death while acquitting four accused including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Rauf Siddiqui.

It should be noted that 8 years ago, on September 11, 2012, 260 people, including men and women, were killed in a horrific fire at the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town, Karachi.

Initially a murder case was registered against the factory owners, later they were charged with negligence but then the tragic incident raised several questions as to whether the fire started or was set, after which the incident was investigated. A nine-member Joint Investigation Committee (JIT) comprising officers from Rangers and other agencies, including the police, was formed.

The verdict in this case of the biggest industrial tragedy in the history of the country was announced today after 8 years, for which a large number of media and journalists were present in the court.

The verdict was handed down by a judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court No. 7, which was hearing the case in the Judicial Complex of the Central Jail, bringing the case to a logical conclusion.

The decision in this case came after the recording of evidence, statements of prosecution witnesses, statements of the accused, final arguments of the Special Public Prosecutor and the lawyers of the accused completed their arguments.

In its short order, the court acquitted four accused Rauf Siddiqui, Abdul Sattar Khan, Ali Hassan Qadri, Iqbal Adib Khanum on the basis of lack of evidence while two main accused Abdul Rehman Bhola and Zubair Charia were sentenced to death.

The ATC also convicted four guards for facilitating the crime.

Earlier, the case was expected to be decided on September 17, but the state prosecutor (public prosecutor) had submitted additional documents related to the victims, after which the case was adjourned to September 22.

The eight-year-old case involved 10 accused, including Rauf Siddiqui, the then Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) provincial minister for industry and commerce, and Abdul Rehman alias, MQM’s Baldia Town sector in-charge. Bhola, Zubair alias Charia, Hyderabad businessman Abdul Sattar Khan, Umar Hassan Qadri, Iqbal Adib Khanum and four watchmen of the factory Shah Rukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mahmood and Ali Muhammad.

He was accused of setting fire to the factory on the instructions of the then head of the MQM Karachi organizing committee, Hamad Siddiqui, for not paying an extortion of Rs 250 million by the factory owner, Hamad Siddiqui and the businessman. Personality Ali Hassan Qadri has been declared a fugitive as both of them had fled abroad.

It is believed that in this case, the prosecution completed the case including forensic, ballistic and chemical analysis reports and the testimony of 400 people against the accused, however, the named accused denied all the allegations.

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