KARACHI: A former Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader was taken into custody in the UAE for his alleged involvement in the 2012 Baldia factory fire incident in which more than 250 labourers were killed.
Hammad Siddiqui, the former head of the MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee who left the country in May 2013, was arrested in Dubai after Interpol reportedly issued a red notice for his arrest earlier this year.
According to media reports, the Pakistan government was in touch with the UAE authorities for bringing Siddiqui back to the country. The MQM had expelled him from the party in May 2013. He was said to be instrumental behind the formation of the Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen Party. His name first had surfaced in the Baldia factory fire case in February 2015 when a joint investigation team’s report submitted to the Sindh High Court stated that a suspect heard that the ill-fated industrial unit had been set to fire because the owners had refused to pay extortion.
Later, a new JIT was formed that interviewed the factory owners in the UAE. A fresh charge sheet was submitted to an antiterrorism court in the light of the findings of the JIT, which said that Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, an MQM man who was brought back after his arrest in Bangkok through Interpol in December 2016, disclosed during interrogation as well as before a magistrate that he along with Zubair alias Charya and others set the factory ablaze on the instructions of Siddiqui because the factory owners had refused to pay the demanded protection money.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2017