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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court summoned on Thursday Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui for Nov 28 to attend the hearing of an application seeking his inclusion in the Baldia factory fire case as an accused.

In a previous hearing, special public prosecutor Sajid Mahboob Shaikh had moved the application and contended that police had not charge sheeted the lawmaker for lack of evidence.

However, he maintained that there was still sufficient evidence available against Rauf Siddiqui to connect him with the commission of the crime and asked the court to summon him as an accused to face the trial.

According to a summons for personal appearance, issued by the office of ATC-VII on Thursday, the application in question is fixed for hearing before the court on Nov 28 and directed Mr Siddiqui to ensure his presence at the hearing.

According to a supplementary charge sheet, Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola, the then sector in-charge of the MQM in Baldia Town, during interrogation as well as before a magistrate disclosed that he along with Zubair, alias Charya, and others set the factory ablaze on the instruction of the then chief of the MQM organising committee, Hammad Siddiqui, because the factory owners had refused to pay the demanded protection money and ‘partnership’.

The suspect also alleged that after the incident Rauf Siddiqui allegedly got a case registered against the owners of the industrial unit and then the suspect said that he came to know that Rauf and Hammad received Rs40 million to Rs50m from the owners to tone down the case against them.

However, the supplementary report further said that sufficient evidence was not found against the MQM MPA during investigation, adding that he joined the investigation and denied all the allegations.

The prosecution said that over 250 labourers were burnt alive when the multistorey garment factory building in Baldia Town was set on fire in September 2012.

Lawyers’ boycott

The legal proceedings remained suspended at the subordinate judiciary on Thursday as lawyers observed a boycott against the murder of their colleague and his three family members in Quetta a day earlier.

The Sindh Bar Council had given a province-wide strike call to condemn the killing of Advocate Mohammad Adeel, his parents and six-year-old son.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2017