KARACHI: A monument be erected at the place where the burnt-out facade of the Baldia garments factory stands and the culprits behind the country’s deadliest fire that claimed 259 lives on September 11, 2012 be arrested, demanded the families of the victims on the third anniversary of the incident.
Congregated in front of the Baldia factory where they were received with red flags on Friday, the families once again relived the evening when the fire broke out in the factory claiming hundreds of lives apart from injuring countless others.
Organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), the memorial reference made most people break down from time to time as they discussed their ordeal after losing their loved ones.
Sitting with the pictures of their loved ones, some of them were made to sit on the stage where they shared their stories one by one and demanded justice for those left behind.
Sitting near the stage, Nasreen Shaheen whose brother-in-law died in the fire narrated that they were recently given the compensation money for the loss. Travelling from Gulshan-i-Iqbal with a toddler in arms, she said her husband slipped in and out of depression whenever the Baldia factory blaze anniversary approached. “Nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one,” she says, as near the podium families from New Karachi entered and were being shown the way. “My husband was refusing to take the money but I reminded him of his family and their needs after his brother died. There’s nobody to take care of his parents. This money will at least ensure a respectful life for them,” she added.
On the stage, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor was asking everyone to understand why the city did not mourn the loss of their women and children. While answering himself, he said it was “because we shut the city when it suits us. No one cares for the children of the poor”.
Momina Bibi, 53, whose 19-year-old son — the only bread winner for the family of five — perished in the fire, said she wanted justice for all. She also said that since her son was a “Hafiz-i-Quran, a madressah should be built in the place of Ali Enterprises building.” Though the families sitting near the stage shared her grief, most of them did not agree with that suggestion saying there should be a memorial instead.
Three days back, the families of the victims filed a case in an Italian court against the social auditing authority, namely RINA.
The families demanded to know why the social auditing authority gave a safety clearance to the factory when it was obvious that the building had violated the basic building plan.
The first hearing of the case will begin on September 30.
Another case was filed in March this year, against the German brand, KIK, as the company refused to pay second phase of lifelong compensation to heirs of the victims. In a detailed response recently, the German firm said they already paid a sum of one million dollars to the heirs and that they do not share “further responsibility in the case”.
Published in Dawn September 12th, 2015