KARACHI: The Sindh government on Monday made the reports of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) about the killing of 259 people in a Baldia factory and Uzair Baloch public after the judiciary took cognisance of the matter on the petition of a federal minister.

The home department uploaded the JIT reports on its website making them accessible to the public while drawing varied reactions of political parties.

The Baldia factory report recommended registering of a fresh FIR on terrorism charges against the then head of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee Hammad Siddiqui and seven others, whereas the JIT report on Uzair Baloch confirmed that he had “confessed” to the killing of 198 people on ethnic and political grounds and in rivalry with other gangs.

Placing him in ‘black’ category, the JIT declared Uzair Baloch, the head of now defunct Amn Committee, was involved in the killing of his rival gangsters, innocent citizens on ethnic and political grounds besides several police and Rangers personnel.

Report calls for fresh FIR on terrorism charges against former MQM leader, seven others; Uzair Baloch confesses to killing 198 people

The JIT report said he was involved in espionage activities. He confessed to killing 198 people on ethnic, political grounds as well as in gang warfare, it said, quoting him as saying that 11 traders in the Shershah junk market were killed because they were “sympathisers” of a political party and gave extortion to that party.

He also admitted that he kidnapped his rival gang leader Arshad Pappu and two others with the help of certain police officers and murdered them brutally to take revenge of his father’s killing.

The JIT report said he was also involved in extortion, land grabbing, China-cutting and narcotics trafficking.

About the deadly Baldia factory fire that claimed 259 lives, the JIT declared that it was not a fire accident rather a “planned sabotage/ terror activity” carried out over non-payment of Rs200 million extortion and partnership in factory profits.

The report held the then head of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee Hammad Siddiqi and Rehman Bhola responsible for the incident. The JIT was critical of the initial police investigation into the case and observed that the police dealt it in an unprofessional manner and in a way to benefit “the offenders” instead of the victims for some “motives and gains”. It said the “fear and favour” were dominating factors in initial investigation, which affected the police performance “length and breadth”.

The JIT recommended a fresh FIR under terror charges against eight accused including Hammad Siddiqi.

Reaction

Talking to a section of media, the leaders of different parties gave varied reactions.

Sindh minister Saeed Ghani said Uzair Baloch’s JIT report was five years old, but federal minister Ali Zaidi did not awake then. He said as the people named in the JIT had recorded their respective statements, the matter should be left to the courts to decide.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader in Sindh Haleem Adil Shaikh told the media that everyone knew that Uzair had links with the PPP leadership. He said the PTI government had made sugar report public and it was the party’s demand that the Sindh government made the JIT reports public so that people could know what had been happening in Karachi and who was responsible for it.

Dr Farooq Sattar, head of his own faction of the MQM, said the JITs had often not been helpful in holding people responsible before the court of law. He apprehended that the JITs might have been “tampered” with.

The MQM leader believed that by making the JITs report public, they might become source of media trial.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020