KARACHI: A local court on Saturday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Investigating Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb for his failure to appear before it during the hearing of the Baldia Town factory fire case.
In a previous hearing of the case, the investigating officer failed to bring the Joint Investigation Team's report on record of the trial court. Following this, the court came down heavily on the officer for failing to file statements of witnesses in the case.
The judge had asked the officer to complete the statements of witnesses and file them in the court on Feb 21 (today). However, the IO failed to comply with the court's order.
The court also expressed displeasure over the absence of the IO from today's hearing and subsequently issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.
It also ordered contempt proceedings against the sub-inspector and ordered for his salary to be discontinued.
Meanwhile, factory owner Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, who have been booked for the tragic incident, also failed to appear in court today. Their counsel informed the court that his clients could not appear on medical grounds.
The three accused were also absent from the previous hearing of the case during which the court had ordered the production of their medical certificates. However, the medical certificates were not produced during today's hearing either.
The court ordered the appearance of the three men at the next hearing of the case, saying failure to do so would result in issuance of arrest warrants against them.
The court subsequently adjourned the matter to March 7.
It may be mentioned that earlier this week, special prosecutor Shazia Hanjra had separated herself from the Baldia Town case, saying that investigating authorities had not been cooperating with her and that IO Jehanzeb had given a no objection certificate to the factory owners' bail application. She had said that the IO had still not given her a copy of the case's investigation documents.
The Baldia Town factory inferno case took a dramatic turn last week 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 the joint investigation team (JIT) was submitted to the Sindh High Court by an additional attorney general along with a statement of the deputy assistant judge advocate general of Rangers, Major Ashfaque Ahmed.
The statement had said that the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.
Op-Ed: Game of thrones?
This JIT report has no evidentiary value for the Baldia case as Rizwan Qureshi’s statement is based on hearsay. Everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty and MQM is right in asserting that its media trial on the basis of such report is unfair. But the JIT report, MQM’s reaction to it, and the Baldia colony incident together epitomise how our state is devoid of integrity, how our Constitution’s promise of protecting life and property of citizens means nothing and how our society has reconciled with these ugly truths.
Those responsible for Baldia factory fire must be publicly hanged: Altaf Hussain
MQM chief Altaf Hussain on Saturday urged Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif to form an investigative committee to probe into the factory fire incident and said that those responsible for this heinous act should be hanged publicly in front of the factory.
He appealed to the army chief to select three individuals trusted by the army who are capable of carrying out a "real investigation" into the incident.
He added that the investigators should keep the army chief informed with timely updates of the investigation.
"A special square must be made in front of the factory where the brutal beasts involved in burning more than a hundred people to death should be hanged," the MQM chief said. "Their bodies should be displayed there for many days so that whoever witnesses the site would find it unfathomable to carry out such an act again."