KARACHI: A day after the Sindh High Court ordered the inspector general of police (IGP) to register cases pertaining to 18 deaths in Keamari deaths and launch a proper probe, police on Wednesday lodged 10 FIRs, sealed five factories for allegedly releasing hazardous emissions and sought court permission for exhumation of the bodies of the victims.

Investigators told Dawn that the IGP also constituted a committee, headed by DIG-South Irfan Ali Baloch, to probe the matter in compliance with the high court’s directives.

They saidthat the police registered 10 new cases on the complaints of the victims’ legal heirs against the owners of industrial units and factories operating in the Ali Muhammad Goth and its surroundings.

The complainants —Khadim Hussain, Ali Akbar, Meer Hassan, Shakoor Ahmed, Muhammad Hassan, Shabbir Ahmed, Abdul Wahab, Riaz Ahmed, Wazir Ahmed and Ghulam Qadir — lodged their FIRs under Sections 322 (manslaughter), 384 (negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code against unknown owners/operators of the factories/industrial units at the Moachko police station.

IGP forms probe body in compliance with SHC directive; magistrate approached for exhumation of victims’ bodies

The investigators said that a police team also sealed some five factories/industrial units, adding that several others had already been locked up by their owners, who were also said to be on the run in order to avoid their arrests.

On Wednesday, SSP-Investigation Keamari Saleem Shah visited the industrial units, collected details about location of the industrial units operating and warehouses set up in the locality and also compiled the details of the victims after meeting their families, a statement added.

Court permission sought to exhume bodies

Meanwhile, DSP Saleem Shah, the investigation officer of a case against a factory owner, moved an application before the judicial magistrate (west) seeking permission to exhume the bodies of the victims for the purpose of conducting a post-mortem examination to ascertain the ‘actual’ cause of their deaths.

He submitted that the legal heirs had buried the bodies of the victims — including some 16 children — without completing medico-legal formalities, which was necessary in order to complete the investigation.

The IO further submitted that in order to ascertain the actual cause of deaths, the permission may be granted to exhume the bodies of the victims as per the law.

The magistrate issued a notice to the complainants, who are the legal heirs of the victims, to appear in court to record their consent for exhuming the victims’ bodies.

Police had arrested Khair Muhammad alias Sher Muhammad and booked him along with two brother and co-owners Shahid Husain and Saeed Khan over their alleged negligent conduct that led to emission of toxic fumes resulting in deaths of 18 residents of Ali Ahmed Goth over the last three weeks.

Currently, the factory’s main owner Khair Muhammad is in judicial custody while his brothers Shahid Husain and Saeed Khan are on interim pre-arrest bail till Jan 9 (today).

Initially, they were booked under the Sections 322 (manslaughter), 384 (negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance) by the Mochkoh police on the complaint of Khadim Hussain, whose wife, two sons and an infant daughter had died allegedly after consuming toxic fumes.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023

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