Altaf wants foreign probe into Baldia factory fire

Published February 9, 2015
MQM chief Altaf Hussain.–Photo courtesy:
MQM chief Altaf Hussain.–Photo courtesy:

HYDERABAD/KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has demanded a probe by foreign investigators into the 2012 Baldia Town factory inferno in the wake of a Rangers’ report which blamed his party for the deadly incident on the basis of a suspect’s confessional statement.

Addressing party leaders, workers and supports at a function held in Latifabad’s Bagh-i-Mustafa ground to celebrate the ground-breaking of Altaf Hussain University in the wee hours of Sunday, the MQM chief alleged that there were some black sheep in the army, ISI, Rangers, Intelligence Bureau, FIA and police who were responsible for the death of the Quaid-i-Azam, Fatima Jinnah and Benazir Bhutto and massacre of people in the Qasba and Ali Garh riots, Pacca Qilla operation and the Sept 30,1988 Hyderabad carnage. The accused in these and other tragedies had never been arrested, he added.

Also read: MQM claim party worker arrested, demand immediate release

He said his party had postponed celebrations because of the Shikarpur Imambargah tragedy and killing of MQM workers and when celebrations were planned JIT sort of things emerged.

He was referring to the joint investigation team which prepared the report on the Baldia Town tragedy.

The MQM chief was critical of headlines of the JIT report in the print media and said some TV channels rejoiced and his party’s rivals backed by some elements in the establishment came out with all guns blazing.

“Call foreign detectives [to investigate the Baldia Town factory fire] and get it reinvestigated. If it is proved that MQM’s men are involved then there should be no leniency and they should be hanged,” he said.

But he asked why Rizwan Qureshi — the alleged MQM worker who had disclosed the information on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno — was first arrested and then let off and when he was arrested again. “Why was the JIT report not released earlier and what are the statements of factory owners? Why were they not produced before?”

Addressing Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, DG ISI Rizwan Akhtar, heads of IB and FIA and Sindh IG, he said that because of such reports half of the country had been lost and warned that if “we don’t reform ourselves then the remaining half, God forbid, will be lost too”.

He termed the JIT a “joint interrogation tabloid team” and said its report was prepared on the pattern of tabloids that printed spicy stuff. He said some anchorpersons went for an overkill to defame the MQM. If an individual committed a crime it was his own act and could not be described as that of a party, he added.

Mr Hussain directed the MQM legal aid committee to file cases against those responsible for preparing such reports.

He said he wondered whether the Benazir Bhutto assassination case had been resolved by the Scotland Yard and UN investigators. No JIT was formed to investigate the Rawalpindi’s Ojhri camp blast and there was no investigation into the C-130 plane crash in which Gen Ziaual Haq and top generals were killed.

He alleged that terrorists responsible for killing thousands of people had been arrested from the residences of Jamaat-i-Islami leaders.

He asked anchorpersons to refrain from maligning the MQM on the basis of the JIT report. He said he had always asked party workers to demonstrate patience. “But if the anchorpersons continue to accuse and slander [MQM], then they will themselves be responsible for the consequences, and not the MQM,” he warned.

About the May 12, 2007 incident, he said the MQM had organised a rally for restoration of independent judiciary. It was attended by the party’s women workers along with their children. “Let me tell you where this conspiracy was hatched. It was hatched in the ISI office and some of its elements like Gen Nusrat Naeem were part of it. He asked the ANP president to target the rally when it is held,” Mr Hussain claimed.

He alleged that JI’s Mohammad Hussain Mahanti had called a meeting to which (MQM) Haqiqi men were invited and given arms, money and MQM flags. They were told to get into the rally with flags and open fire.

He rejected allegations that 100 lawyers were burnt alive on May 12, 2007.

The Muttahida chief urged Gen Raheel Sharif and the ISI chief to avoid investing in and trusting the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and JI. “They are Taliban, Daish and Pakistan’s enemies,” he said.

Challenge to JIT report: Meanwhile, other MQM leaders said on Sunday that the party would challenge the JIT report in court.

Addressing a press conference at the party’s Nine Zero headquarters in Karachi, MQM’s senior leaders Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Haider Abbas Rizvi and Dr Farooq Sattar said it was a concocted report aimed at maligning the Muttahida through a media trial.

They said the report was based on hearsay and the purpose of its submission to the court was only to discredit the MQM.

Mr Rizvi claimed that neither a police investigation nor an inquiry conducted by retired Justice Zahid Kurban Alvi into the Baldia factory inferno had found any evidence of extortion or terrorism.

He asked why no FIR or charge-sheet had been submitted to the trial court if the JIT report found MQM’s involvement in the deadly fire incident.

At another press conference held on Sunday night, the MQM leaders condemned the arrest and implication of its senior worker Rafiq Rajput in the May 12, 2007 mayhem.

MQM leader Aamir Khan claimed that 14 workers of the party had been killed on that day but not a single killer was arrested.

Published in Dawn February 9th , 2015

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