Muttahida terms SHC verdict in Baldia factory fire case ‘murder of justice’

Published September 13, 2023
MQM-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addresses a press conference in Karachi on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
MQM-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui addresses a press conference in Karachi on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

KARACHI: A day after the Sindh High Court cast doubts over the role of the central leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the Baldia factory fire case, the party expressed serious concerns over the verdict and termed it a ‘murder of justice’.

On Monday, the SHC had maintained the death sentence handed down by the trial court to two MQM activists — Rehman Bhola and Zubair Charya — and observed that it was “extremely unlikely” that decision to set the factory on fire could have been made “without the sanction of the leadership of MQM”.

Speaking at a press conference, MQM-Pakistan convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that the two party workers who were handed down death sentence were “innocent”.

Reacting to the SHC’s observation regarding his party, Dr Siddiqui said that it was a dangerous situation for the country when the court and state orders started to appear like having a sense of linguistic and ethnic bias.

Vows to stand by party workers who got death sentence; demands judicial commission

“The verdict read that the incident could not have been possible without the involvement of the top leadership of MQM. Don’t announce verdicts on assumption, instead form a judicial commission,” he demanded.

Standing behind the two party workers, he said, “We will go everywhere with the courts to get our workers released.”

He also requested the chief justice of Pakistan to form a judicial commission to probe the entire case as the report of the first joint investigation team (JIT) termed the factory fire an accident.

He said that MQM was presenting itself for the accountability. “We hope a judicial commission will be formed on the killing of Benazir Bhutto and PIA plane hijack case along with Baldia factory fire case,” he said.

He maintained that MQM saw the incident as a tragedy and if there was anyone to be blamed, it was factory owners as there were no precautions in the factory to save lives.

Senior MQM-P leader Syed Mustafa Kamal said that the court ignored the facts while announcing the verdict.

He said that victim’s lawyer Barrister Faisal Siddiqi wrote a book that included testimonies of witnesses, but it was ignored.

Mr Kamal said that the judge suspected that how the MQM workers did this without the involvement of party’s senior leadership. “In this case, we must be hanged and not the workers,” he said.

He said that during the investigation, the factory owners had accepted that they had welded the doors and windows of the factory, sealing all the doors because they feared robberies and theft and so there were no safety measures.

“There was only one way in and out of the factory which was guarded by four security guards and CCTV cameras. No one was seen coming in or going out of the factory, then how it can be an act of terrorism,” he asked.

He said that the factory owners — Rashid Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila — fled the country after getting bail from a court in Larkana.

“There were cameras everywhere in the factory. Why no recording of these cameras were presented in court in the last 11 years. All the CCTV cameras were safe, but still no investigation was done through them,” he said.

“Two laboratories took the samples after the fire and found out that no chemical was used to set the factory on fire,” he said, adding: “It is not me, but the victim’s lawyer who is saying this.”

Former law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem said that they planned to file an appeal in the case.

He added that the party reserved the right to go for legal proceeding on speculations over the involvement of party leadership in the incident.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2023

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