KARACHI, Sept 17 The district and sessions judge (south) recorded on Thursday statements of a rice dealer and a witness in connection with the Khori Garden stampede, in which 20 girls and women were killed on Monday.

Judge Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui, appointed inquiry officer to investigate and determine the cause of the incident, visited the place of the incident on Thursday morning and later recorded testimonies.

The rice dealer, Chaudhry Mohammed Iftikhar, who was booked for negligence and unintentional killing of the women, deposed that he had been distributing food items in Ramzan for the past 25 years and no untoward incident had taken place during that period, but the tragedy took place on Sept 24 during the distribution of ration tokens due to a massive crowd.

He added that the stampede erupted when some women tried to snatch ration tokens from one another and the organisers were overwhelmed by the unmanageable crowd.

Denying media reports, he said the light went off after the incident and the deaths were not caused by suffocation.

He further stated that the area nazim and the station house officer were also aware of the distribution of food items, but due to mounting poverty countless women and girls thronged the outlet that day to obtain tokens for food items.

A witness, Abdul Aziz, said he was sitting in his shop situated near the rice dealer's outlet when the incident took place.

He added that he had been witnessing the distribution of food items for many years, but this time a larger number of women and children approached the outlet apparently due to the unprecedented rise in daily-use commodities and fast-growing poverty.

Two more shopkeepers will record their statements on Saturday.

A stampede had caused the death of 20 women and girls who had gathered at the three-storey building, near the Khori Garden within the remit of the Kharadar police station, where the rice trader was giving out food items for free on Sept 24.

Forex scam case

The same court dismissed on Thursday the bail application of a suspect in a forex scam case.

Atif Polani filed a bail application in the court through his counsel and the judge pronounced the verdict after hearing both sides.

Abdul Munaf Kalia, his brother Hanif Kalia, Javed Khanani and Atif Polani are charged with illegally transferring billions of dollars abroad.

A case (76/08) was registered against the suspects under Sections 5/8, 22/23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947 read with Sections 7, 8 & 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007 and Sections 409, 420, 467, 471, 477-A of the Pakistan Penal Code at the FIA crime circle branch.