Baldia Factory Fire Case: Two MQM workers sentenced to death, four acquitted

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi, awarded death sentence to two MQM workers while acquitting four party officials in Baldia Factory Case on Tuesday (today).

The court in its verdict, awarded death sentence to two Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers Abdul Rahman, alias ‘Bhola’, and Zubair, alias ‘Charya’ in 2012 Baldia factory fire incident case.

Meanwhile, MQM leaders including Rauf Siddiqui, Umar Hasan Qadri, Dr Abdul Sattar Khan and Iqbal Adeeb Khanum have been acquitted in the case over lack of evidence.

Four other individuals have also been convicted on charges of facilitating the heinous crime.

The verdict which announced after a total of 170 hearings, was read at at ATC VII inside Karachi Central Jail.

The court had reserved its verdict on September 2nd  and was initially scheduled for announcement on September 17th, which was later changed to September 22nd (today).

Baldia Factory Fire

On September 11th 2012, a massive fire broke out at a garment factory owned by Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town area of Karachi. Between 300 and 400 workers were inside the factory when the blaze erupted, most of whom were left trapped inside as the blaze engulfed the entire complex.

The blaze killed 258 factory workers who were unable to escape all the exit doors in the factory were locked and many of the windows of the factory were covered with iron bars.

Initially the blaze was declared as a result of an accident or a short circuit, however, an investigation was launched and a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was formed to probe the incident.

In a report submitted by JIT to Sindh High Court (SHC) it was revealed that the fire was no accident and was in fact the result of an arson attack as it the factory was intentionally doused with flammable chemicals by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers over the refusal of payment of extortion money of around Rs 200 million by the factory owners.

The report stated that MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) head Hammad Sidduqui directed MQM workers and sector in-charge Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola and M. Zubair, alias Charya, to start the factory fire with the help of its four gatekeepers Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad.

The revelation of the nefarious nexus between a mainstream political party and crime shook the city and resulted in a public uproar that led to a case being filed in the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi involving various MQM leaders and workers such as Rauf Siddiqui.