00:04:17 local time PAKISTAN
* Are we waiting for another Baldia tragedy?:
The black patches on the walls of Ali Enterprises are a stark reminder of that fateful night when 260 workers were burned alive.
Three years on, hundreds of mourners stood in front of the factory premises in Baldia, holding pictures of their loved ones who were lost in the tragedy.
The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Association of Baldia Tragedy organised a condolence reference at the site to mark the third anniversary of factory inferno on Friday evening.
The reference was attended by scores of civil activists and heirs of the victims. Missing in action were the elected representatives and government officials.
The charred building reminded elderly Muhammad Tariq of his 22-year-old-son, Faizan, who lost his life in the incident. “In just five minutes, the whole building was burned down,” he recalled.
He said that his son used to pray five times a day. “He went back to the factory after offering Asr prayers and then never came back,” he said, adding that he was the only breadwinner of the family.
Tariq does not seek any compensation.
|He said that no amount of money could heal his wound. “I just want justice,” he said. “I just want to see the culprits behind bars at least once. Maybe that will provide a bit of solace to us.”
Trying to cover her face with a scarf with one hand and holding pictures of her two sons with the other, Sarwari Begum couldn’t control her emotions.
She was standing outside the building where she lost everything. She said that her two young sons, Adil and Asif, were her world. “Life without them is nothing,” she said.
She demanded justice.
“The owner of the company has run away and there is no one to listen to our woes,” she complained. Sarwari gets a monthly stipend for her two sons but that too will end after two years.
She said that if the government was doing nothing for them, it should at least make the stipend life-time.
According to NTUF deputy secretary Nasir Mansoor, the inferno was one of the biggest industrial tragedies in history.
When asked what the government had learned from the incident, he replied, “Nothing.”
* Third anniversary of Baldia factory fire : Speakers express concern over health, safety of factories workers:
The third anniversary of the worst-ever factory fire incident in Pakistan’s history, Ali Enterprises in SITE area Karachi, commonly known as Baldia factory fire, was observed here on Friday.
On the occasion, leaders expressed their serious concerns regarding the further deteriorating conditions at workplaces in Pakistan, with no adequate measures installed on part of the government after the deadliest incident in which more than 255 workers lost their lives.
Sindh Workers Solidarity Committee, a representative committee of the trade unions, federations and labour support organisations, in collaboration with the Sindh government’s Labour and Human Resource Department organised a seminar on “Requirements and facts about health and safety of work places” at the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House here.
Trade union leaders, civil society representatives and family members of the victim workers attended the seminar.
Researcher Zulekha Zar presented the occupational health and safety situation in textile and garments sector.
She said that in the textile sector, various chemicals like dyes and acids are used but workers are not provided personnel safety or protective gear/equipment. “Unfortunately, textile and garments sector in Pakistan is not providing preventive measures for the health and safety of the workers.”
She said that Pakistan is a signatory of various conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and it has to ensure provision of ILO standards at the industries.
Farhat Fatima from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) discussed at length the legal battle for provision of compensation to the victim families of Baldia fire incident.
She said that due to the Sindh High Court’s commission the families of the victims had received compensation.
* Protesters slam German brand in factory fire payout row:
German textile brand KiK was in the line of fire at protests by trade unions in Pakistan on Friday for refusing to pay promised compensation to the relatives of 259 workers killed in a factory fire three years ago.
Thousands of workers rallied in major cities across Sindh with banners and placards criticising the low-cost clothing retailer and the government.
The demonstrations took place exactly three years after the blaze, which was the deadliest industrial disaster in the country’s history.
The flames gutted the huge compound of Ali Enterprises, textile manufacturers located at the edge of Karachi which supplied products to KiK.
The brand agreed to pay compensation in three instalments but backed out on its promise after a one-time disbursement of one million US dollars, union leader Nisar Mansoor said.
Mansoor described the rallies as a “commemoration as well as protest against the government to provide workers a safe working environment and against KiK to fulfil its commitment.”
Families of the victims filed a case against KiK in the German city of Dortmund this year. KiK reiterated in a court statement last week that it is not obligated to pay any more compensation.
* Concern expressed over factories’ health, safety conditions:
3rd anniversary of Baldia factory inferno
Third anniversary of the worst ever factory fire incident in Pakistan’s history, Ali Enterprises in SITE area Karachi commonly known as Baldia factory fire, was observed here on Friday with a serious note of the further deteriorating conditions at the work places in Pakistan with no adequate measures on part of the government after the deadliest incident in which over 255 workers lost their lives.
Sindh Workers Solidarity Committee, a representative committee of the trade unions, federations and labour support organisations in collaboration with Sindh Government’s department of Labour and Human Resource Department organized a seminar on “Requirements and Facts about Health and Safety of Work Places” at Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) House here. Trade union leaders, civil society representatives, family members of the victim workers attended the seminars.
Senior labour leader Habibuddin Junaidi presided over the seminar, where as the main speakers were Zulekha Zar, ex-Director of National Institute of Labour Administration and Training (NILAT), Ali Ashraf Naqvi, Joint Director of Occupational Health and Safety in Sindh Labour Department, Farhat Fatima from Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), A. H. Haidri of Employers Federation of Pakistan, Mir Zulfiqar Ali of NOW Communities and others.
After the seminar, a candle-light vigil was organized at Karachi Press Club.
* Pakistan lags far behind in compensating industrial victims:
While the families of the 289 victims of Karachi’s Baldia Town factory inferno have been awaiting justice and compensation since September 11, 2012, one continues to envy the prosecution and judicial systems of countries like the United States where the heirs of 146 garment workers were paid $75 each over 100 years ago, after their dear ones had died in New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911.
Using the CPI inflation calculator, which uses the average Consumer Price Index for a given calendar year; one finds that the amount of $75 in 1913 or 102 years ago is approximately equivalent to $1,808 in 2015 in dollar terms or Pakistani Rupees 188,450 of today.
Research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” reveals that the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the deadliest in American history, had led to the demise of 123 women and 23 men, all of whom had lost lives due to burns, smoke inhalation, falling or jumping to their deaths.
The owners of the New York factory had survived the fire by fleeing to the building’s roof when the fire began, but were later indicted on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter because they had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits, a common practice used to prevent workers from taking unauthorized breaks and pilferage.
During the initial trial, the jury had acquitted the two men of first- and second-degree manslaughter, but they were found liable of wrongful deaths during a subsequent civil suit in 1913 in which the plaintiffs were awarded compensation in the amount of $75 per deceased victim.
When it comes to investigating industrial accidents and prosecuting the guilty elements, even Bangladesh is far ahead of Pakistan.
Following the April 2013 Savar building or Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, deemed to be the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history, murder charges were filed in June 2015 by the Bangladeshi police against 42 different people, including the owners of the building.
While 1,129 humans had perished in this accident, some 2,515 injured people were rescued alive from the Savar building or the Rana Plaza, which was housing clothing factories, a bank, apartments, and several other shops.
As far as the compensation to the victims of this tragedy is concerned, Messrs Primark (an Irish clothing retailer operating in Europe and United States) had paid a $200 compensation for families of each victim after they were able to provide DNA evidence of their relative’s death in the collapse.
In case of Karachi’s Baldia Town factory (Messrs Ali enterprises) incident, a case was initially against the factory owners, manager and other employees for their alleged negligence in managing the evacuation process during the fire and not providing a safe exit.
In 2013, the court had ordered to release the factory owners and their key managers against surety bonds of Rs200,000 each. The owners had, of course, alleged that their factory was set ablaze by stalwarts of a political party after they were not given the extortion money.
The Sindh High Court had then constituted a commission headed by Justice (Retd) Rehmat Hussain Jaffery to distribute compensation pledged by the prime minister, the chief minister, factory owners, local administration and Messrs KIK, the German buyer of the factory’s products.
* Families seek monument to Baldia factory fire victims:
A monument be erected at the place where the burnt-out facade of the Baldia garments factory stands and the culprits behind the country’s deadliest fire that claimed 259 lives on September 11, 2012 be arrested, demanded the families of the victims on the third anniversary of the incident.
Congregated in front of the Baldia factory where they were received with red flags on Friday, the families once again relived the evening when the fire broke out in the factory claiming hundreds of lives apart from injuring countless others.
Organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), the memorial reference made most people break down from time to time as they discussed their ordeal after losing their loved ones.
Sitting with the pictures of their loved ones, some of them were made to sit on the stage where they shared their stories one by one and demanded justice for those left behind.
* Three years since factory fire killed hundreds in Karachi:
It has been three years since a fire at a garment factory devoured over 260 people, relatives and families of the victims are still looking for justice and financial assistance.
Whatever caused the fire at the factory in Baldia town, the tragedy left tales of pain, dejection and helplessness.
Nazia’s last telephonic conversation with her Husbanb Riaz, who was trapped in the burning factory, still gives her sleepless nights.
“Nazia take care of my children after I am gone,” Shahid had told her before being killed with hundreds others at Ali Enterprises.
Hoping against the hopes, she wanted Shahid to keep talking so that she could comfort her heart that father of her children was alive.
The government may have forgotten the incident and its victims, but tragedy still haunts Nazia and other families whose loved ones fell victim to the deadly blaze.
* Three years on, heirs of Baldia factory fire victims still living in despair:
The fateful night of September 11, 2012 when a ravaging blaze at a Karachi’s factory gobbled over 250 lives marks three years of the most tragic factory disaster, with families of the victims still remain uncompensated.
Till date, the investigations could not track the elements responsible for the fire. Recent investigations suggested political motive backed by alleged demands of extortion from some influential quarters in Karachi.
The families of the victims were made several promises by the senior government officials, mill owners and international institutions for compensation, but to no avail.
Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah had expressed ‘heartfelt condolences’ over deaths in the tragedy and announced to give government job and plot to each family of the victim, but that promise never materialized.
More to the woes, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also assured the heirs of fire victims to give Rs 3,00,000 as compensation to each family, however he also failed to keep his word.
Several protests have been staged by National Trade Union Federation and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees’ Association in Karachi to voice support and highlight the forgotten promises to the affected families, but justice remained a distant dream in any way.
* Baldia factory fire: Three years, as many reports and the trial goes on:
There are 17 unmarked graves on the outskirts of Karachi. They have not been identified three years after the harrowing incident that claimed the lives of 259 workers in a garment factory in Baldia Town.
The mystery of the 17 victims is unlikely to be resolved. Neither is the case. The decomposed bodies of the 17 victims were buried unidentified five months after the tragedy. The case has lingered on, with the culprits unidentified much like the victims.
Such is the irony with regards to the country’s worst industrial disaster that the investigation has yet to determine whether it was an intentional act of sabotage or an accident.
Over 250 workers perished inside the locked premises of the Ali Enterprises, in Baldia on September 11, 2012.
Three years on, three investigation reports later, the case is still directionless. Initially, the case was registered by incorporating sections of premeditated murder against the factory owners, manager and other employees for their alleged negligence in managing the evacuation process during the fire and not providing a safe exit.
* Seeking justice for deadly Pakistan factory blaze:
Victims demand compensation from foreign company for fire that killed 289 garment workers in 2012.
When the fire broke out at the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan, there was no way for workers to escape the flames – no firefighting equipment, no safety procedures in place, and steel bars blocked windows.
Workers who managed to breakthrough the bars had no fire escapes to climb onto, forcing many to leap to the concrete three or four storeys below.
This was not an informal sweatshop in the back lanes of Karachi, but a large-scale factory with more than 1,500 employees in the heart of the Sindh Industrial and Trading Estate (SITE), one of Pakistan’s largest industrial areas.
A commission set up by the Sindh High Court said fire – Pakistan’s worst industrial incident – killed 289 garment workers and seriously injured 55 more. In the three years since the fire, the victims have encountered delays in their quest for compensation, and now there are reports that the factory owners have fled Pakistan.
Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), has been working to secure long-term compensation from KiK, a company with net sales that amounted to $1.68bn in 2014.
Ali described how in the aftermath of the fire, KiK paid $1m in short-term compensation and signed an agreement to enter into negotiations with PILER for long-term compensation and support measures to avoid future tragedies.
“KiK entered into preliminary negotiations and then they backed out,” explained Ali. “They said ‘We do not have responsibility for long-term compensation.'”
* ‘Three years on, no lessons learnt from Baldia factory fire’:
As families of the Baldia factory fire victims mark three long years since their loved ones never returned from work, a talk held by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday served to reinforce the regrettable belief that not much has changed in Pakistan’s industrial circles, at least with respect to labour conditions and work safety management.
“Till today, almost 90 percent of factories operating in Pakistan remain unregistered,” said NTUF Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor while addressing a sombre audience that included family members of several of the 260 victims.
“Moreover, despite the Supreme Court’s stance, the infamous contract labour system remains fully functional.Workers are still not being given appointment letters at the time of recruitment; social security and old-age benefits are also provided selectively.”
“Many famous international brands and companies that are earning millions by utilising Pakistan’s cheap labor remain hesitant to implement accepted labour standards in their factories and workplaces, he added.
* German firm refuses to pay lifelong compensation to heirs of Baldia factory fire victims:
Months after allegations filed against them in a German court, the German brand KIK has finally filed a detailed response in court refusing to pay long-term compensation to the Baldia factory fire victims, it was stated during a press conference on Wednesday.
Explaining details of the case at the Karachi Press Club, general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Nasir Mansoor said the brand, which already paid one part of the compensation, adding up to one million dollars, “exonerated itself from sharing further responsibility in providing the second phase of compensation for the families of the victims”.
Filed in the regional court of Dortmund in March — making it a first for a case to be filed by outsiders against a German brand in their own country — the basic demand put forth by four heirs of the victims was to provide life-long compensation to people either dead or injured in the Baldia factory fire. Eleven people submitted their documents in the German court and out of them four heirs were the first ones to file their cases. Others, decided to appear as witnesses if required, said Nasir.
The heirs of the victims were helped in filing the case by a group of German lawyers who visited Karachi in August last year and then again in January 2015.
“In their response, the brand owners have argued they are not responsible for providing lifelong compensation for the victims.
“It goes against our agreement with them last year, in which the company categorically admitted to provide financial support,” added Nasir.
The NTUF alleged that the response came after the brand agreed to provide compensation to the families in three phases. Although the brand already dispensed one million dollars as part of negotiation with the NTUF and the heirs, there were other ‘defaulters’, who refused to fulfill their promises, he added.
* German retailer KiK must pay promised compensation to Pakistani factory fire victims:
Two-hundred-and-fifty-four people burnt to death and 55 were seriously injured when a factory supplying budget-clothing brand, KiK, exploded into flames on 11 September 2012. Desperate workers were trapped in the inferno behind locked exits and barred windows.
In the aftermath of the disaster, KiK, with 3,200 stores across Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), legally committing the company to make an initial payment of US$ 1 million to the victims and their families for immediate relief.
As per the agreement, KiK paid $1 million to the interim fund. However, it has so far failed to fulfill its obligations under the MOU to engage in good faith negotiations to determine long-term compensation for victims.
Additionally, the MOU required KiK to pay a sum of US$ 250,000 for future labour standard enforcement; this has also yet to be paid.
Since it signed the MOU on 21 December 2012, the company has engaged in various stalling tactics to avoid paying long-term compensation for loss of income, medical costs, pain and suffering, and more.
Rifit Bibi’s husband, Muhammad Asghar Khan, burnt to death at the Ali Enterprises fire leaving her a widow with four young children to support.
“I get a tiny amount of PKR. 5000 (US$ 47) a month as a pension, which is not enough to buy food for my children. Life is miserable since my husband died,” she said.
Shahida Parveen, a 37-year-old mother of three, lost her husband Muhammad Akmal in the disaster. Her three sons, aged 11 and under, are afraid of a future working in a factory in case they die in a fire:
“They want to work in offices, for which they need a good education. But I don’t have enough money to afford their education,” said Parveen.
read more. & read more.
* Baldia factory fire: 64 families of victims yet to be compensated:
Three years since the country’s deadliest factory fire claimed 259 lives in Baldia, investigation is still under way and the court has yet to decide whether the fire was accidental or the result of an arson attack while the families of as many as 64 victims have not been compensated so far, it emerged on Tuesday.
Most of these people do not have computerised national identity cards, or their documents are not in place, or they are not getting the cheques due to dual nationality. In some cases, women who lost a brother or a father in the inferno, or got married in the ensuing years, are not getting permission from their in-laws to make CNICs causing issues in creating a bank account for them.
Besides, there are families which after waiting for the promised compensation relocated from Karachi or even the country.
For the past three years, labour rights organisations have been fighting on behalf of the victims and say the remaining people could have been paid if “there were not too many lacunas in the way the compensation was dispensed to the deserving”.
They have also been insisting on the need for an overhaul of the entire labour system to ensure workplace safety and precautions for workers.
Shujauddin Qureshi, executive director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, said: “What boggles my mind even today is that the accused in the case, whose statement based on mere hearsay was bandied about so much, is nowhere on the scene any more. Apparently, he was given a bail and shortly afterwards moved abroad.”
Nasir Mansoor, general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation, said: “It rests on the court to decide whether the fire was accidental or arson. At the same time, whether accidental or arson, what should be focused on, is whether the factory had all precautionary arrangements for its 1,500 labourers? The answer to that is a clear no.”
At present, Rehana claims, her biggest struggle during her daily 9 to 5 routine is to look for the families of the victims.
So far, the families of the victims have been paid in three instalments: Rs700,000 from the Sindh government, Rs400,000 from the German company KIK, which is the only instalment the company is willing to pay, according to NTUF, and Rs500,000 from the death grant paid by the owners, Rehana said.
* Heirs of Baldia factory fire victims looking for justice:
“I am not here just to protest for the compensation money for my son, I want that no more mothers go through what I have to,” said Saeeda Khatoon, mother of 20-year-old Ayan, one of the over 200 victims of the Baldia Town factory fire, the worst industrial fire incident in the country’s history.
Saeeda, a resident of Orangi Town, was among scores of the family members of the victims of the Baldia factory fire who gathered in front of the Karachi Press Club on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of the tragic blaze that killed 260 people and wounded hundreds others.
The incident took place on Sept 11, 2012. However, the organisers held the protest demonstration to mark the third anniversary on Sunday as most participants were wage-earners and it was not easy for them to join a protest on a working day.
Her eyes brimmed with tears as she spoke about her son, her only child, who had started working in the factory just a few weeks before the deadly incident.
“It is not just a matter of money,” she said. “Our aim is to strive for better conditions in factories to ensure that no mother should lose her son in the future.”
Muhammad Jabir, 65, who lost his 22-year-old son Jehanzaib, said that the incident psychologically affected him so badly that he quit his work as a gas cutting machine operator in Shershah’s scrap and disallowed any of the remaining three sons to work in any factory.
“My son was a machine operator in the factory,” said Mr Jabir as he tried to suppress tears. “I raised my four sons and two daughters as their mother as my wife died 19 years ago.”
The demonstration he was part of was organised by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees’ Association.
* Baldia factory fire: Investigation team to leave for London:
Investigation team tasked to probe Baldia Town factory fire case has been allowed to leave for London.
According to details, the 4-member investigation team headed by DIG Muneer Sheikh and DIG Sultan Khawaja will leave for London to record the statements of factory owners.
Sources said that the factory owners had departed to London after the tragic incident of the factory fire – the worst in Pakistan’s history.
Over 250 people had lost their lives in Baldia Town factory inferno.
The owners have been in London after the tragic factory fire which had claimed over 250 lives and is considered to be the worst in Pakistan’s history.
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* Factory fires: Smoke and Mirrors:
Nearly three years have passed since the worst factory fire in recorded human history punched gaping holes in Karachi’s feeble fabric on September 11, 2012.
The raging inferno at Ali Enterprises claimed 260 lives and left another 600 injured. Poor safety measures, criminal negligence and an absolute disregard for labour laws resulted in the tragic incident. Yet, lives continue to be lost and more dreams go up in smoke.
Protecting the labour force at factories is a collective effort by all stakeholders, including owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, consultants, regulatory bodies and non-governmental organisations.
However, failure to implement adequate safety measures poses a serious hazard for those working in risky environments, and they’re paying for this with their lives.
The fire at the garment factory of Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town erupted when a boiler exploded and chemicals stored on the premises fuelled the resultant flames.
According to Section 23 of the Factories Act 1934, every factory should have an appropriate fire exit.
Yet, what transpired on that September day was the first of a drawn out exercise of smoke and mirrors.
“There was only one exit and my son was left in a helpless state, waiting for his death,” says Abdul Aziz Khan, father of 19-year-old Attaullah Nabeel who died in the fire.
Many workers suffocated to death when dense smoke engulfed the factory basement.
The owners reportedly shut all exits except one in fear of their merchandise being stolen.
Workers present on the upper floors of the five-storey building tried to somehow bend or break the metal bars on windows, jumping out of any open space that would allow their bodies to pass through.
Grave as it was, the tragedy was only exacerbated by another fire at a shoe factory in Lahore the same day.
The two-storey building was constructed for residential purposes but was illegally being used commercially.
Around 25 people were killed in the incident. One would think the two fires would be enough to stir entrepreneurs and the government to strive and eliminate the possibility of any such tragedies in the future.
But unfortunately, few, if any, lessons were learnt.
* Baldia factory fire: Judge irked by delays in investigations:
Seemingly irked by the never-ending excuses, the district court trying the Baldia factory fire case has sought the investigation report of the case by August 1.
The judge, Naushaba Kazi, who is hearing the case of the country’s worst industrial disaster that claimed the lives of 250 labourers, expressed displeasure over the delay in the submission of the report by the new investigation officer, SP Sajid Sadozai, on Saturday.
She asked Sadozai when the re-investigation of the case will be completed, to which he failed to give a time frame. Instead, he submitted two notifications pertaining to the constitution of an inquiry committee.
20150705 * Court seeks Baldia factory fire reinvestigation report by Aug 1:
Owners of Baldia industrial unit, a general manager and three gatekeepers were initially booked in the tragic incident. —AFP/File
A sessions court on Saturday directed police to submit a re-investigation report in the fire-wrecked garment factory case till Aug 1.
The owners of the Baldia industrial unit, a general manager and three gatekeepers were initially booked and charge-sheeted in the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt in September 2012.
The provincial authorities ordered reinvestigation after a joint investigation team report filed in the Sindh High Court stated the factory had been set on fire over non-payment of extortion money.
When the case came up for hearing on Saturday, additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi expressed her displeasure over the delay in the submission of the re-investigation report.
When she asked SP Sajid Sadozai, the new investigating officer, about the time frame required to complete the reinvestigation, he failed to give any.
Instead the officer, who was tasked to reinvestigate the case in March, submitted two notifications pertaining to the constitution of an inquiry committee.
* Baldia Town factory victims:
Over 289 citizens of Pakistan were burnt alive in Karachi Baldia Town factory massacre in September 2012.
They were not Rohingya Muslims slaughtered by Burmese fanatics or terrorists, nor Palestinians butchered by Israelis, nor victims of Hutu tribal feud of Africa, but by their own fellow citizens for no fault of theirs other than being poor underpaid labourers of a garment factory, whose owners refused to pay extortion money demanded by criminals and terrorists affiliated with a political party which was part of coalition government that ruled Sindh.
Does getting elected give any political party right to kill citizens, collect extortion, kidnap for ransom, forcibly occupy private or state property, indulge in money laundering and yet claim immunity from prosecution?
How can such a government, or a political party and its activists, or criminals involved in such heinous crimes deserve any reprieve from law?
A country that allows such barbarity to go unpunished within its territorial jurisdiction is a state that has no right to exist, or demand membership of UN, or claim sovereignty.
PM Nawaz Sharif, Chief Justice of Pakistan and Gen Raheel Sharif have moral and constitutional responsibility to ensure that the barbarians responsible for Baldia Town Garment Factory Massacre, in which 289 citizens of Pakistan were burnt alive, be given exemplary punishment in conformity to heinous nature of crime committed and not allow political exigencies to be a hurdle in delivery of justice.
Failure in doing so will only encourage terrorism and extortion collection to flourish in this unfortunate country, ruled by people who have neither any stakes in this country nor any commitment except perhaps blinded by greed and lust for black money, assured that they will get away with murder.
* Official apathy: Case lingers on as prosecutor yet to be appointed in Baldia factory fire case:
Amid changing investigations, chilling revelations and apathy on the part of the government, the Baldia factory fire case is making little headway. Three years have passed since the deadly fire claimed the lives of hundreds of labourers, yet the authorities seem to have little interest in prosecuting the case.
Hearing the case on Friday after a 21-day gap, the West district’s additional sessions judge, Naushaba Kazi, expressed displeasure over the vacant place of the state’s counsel and observed that if the authorities did not assign a lawyer by the next hearing, the court will formally approach them again.
Four months on, the government has yet to task an attorney to pursue the case since the resignation of special public prosecutor Shazia Hanjrah. Hanjrah, a high court lawyer, had detached herself from the case following the unearthing of a stark joint investigation team’s (JIT) report that had changed its trajectory.
* Court slams govt for failing to appoint prosecutor in Baldia factory fire case:
Slamming the government for failing to take interest in Baldia factory fire tragedy, a district and sessions court in Karachi adjourned on Saturday the hearing of the case till July 4, Express News reported.
Fire in Ali Enterprises – a garment factory in Baldia Town – burnt 259 people alive on September 11, 2012.
District and sessions court judge Noshaba Qazi said the non-appointment of a special public prosecutor in the case clearly shows lack of interest on part of the government. The court, as a result, decided not to hear the case.
In February, Shazia Hanjrah had detached herself from the case as special public prosecutor, citing the lack of cooperation of the investigators.
* Report sought on ‘arrest’ of absconder in factory fire case:
A sessions court on Saturday directed the police to inform it about the whereabouts of an absconder in the Baldia factory fire case.
The owner of the ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been booked in the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt alive in September 2012.
On a previous hearing, one of the defence lawyers, through an application, submitted that the law enforcement agencies had picked up Shahrukh, an absconder in the case, and since then he had been missing.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Naushaba Kazi called a report from the police on the next date as to whether the absconding accused was in custody.
The court also issued a notice to the investigation officer of the case, SP Sajid Sadozai, over his absence and adjourned the hearing till July 4.
* Tortured to death: Political worker killed in police custody:
A worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Waseem Dehlavi, was tortured to death by police personnel at the Aziz Bhatti police station on Wednesday. The post-mortem report confirmed that Waseem died due to cardiac failure resulting from a head injury.
Meanwhile, a murder case has been registered against the personnel at their own police station on the orders of Sindh IG Ghulam Haider Jamali.
Dehlavi, a father of three and an employee of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, was arrested along with two of his brothers during a raid at his house in Muhajir Camp, Baldia Town, on Tuesday morning.
“Police personnel in plain clothes barged into our house and arrested them in front of the entire neighbourhood,” said his teary-eyed widow outside the hospital.
“No inquiry committee can return my husband.
The perpetrators should be killed in the same manner that they killed my husband.”
Shortly after Dehlavi’s death, the police released his two brothers.
The brothers too accused the police of torturing Dehlavi and them too, after they were failed to give them a hefty amount of bribe. “Until Dehlavi was alive, we were hardened criminals and were accused of being involved in the Baldia factory fire and other crimes,” said Dehlavi’s brother, Adil. “If they were right, why did they release us now?” he questioned.
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* New prosecutor in factory fire case to be appointed:
A sessions court on Saturday directed the provincial law department to appoint a special public prosecutor in the Baldia Town factory fire case.
The owner of ill-fated industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been booked in the tragic incident in which over 250 workers lost their lives in September 2012.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Naushaba Kazi directed the law secretary to appoint a special public prosecutor as the case could not proceed without a prosecutor.
The hearing was adjourned till June 6.
* Baldia Factory Fire: Govt yet to appoint prosecutor:
Despite the lapse of three months, the government has yet to appoint a prosecutor to assist the trial court in the Baldia factory fire case.
Shazia Hanjrah, the special public prosecutor given the assignment, had detached herself from the case in February, citing the lack of cooperation of the investigators days after a joint interrogation report changed the trajectory of the case.
Irked by the delay, the additional district and sessions judge V of District West, Naushaba Kazi, approached the law department on Saturday, directing the authorities to appoint the state’s counsel by the next hearing on June 6.
Neither the newly-appointed investigation officer SP Sajid Sadozai nor the suspects appeared before the court for Saturday’s hearing.
However, they, through their counsels, pleaded to condone their absence.
* Baldia Factory Fire Case: Non-bailable warrants issued for Qureshi:
For the fourth time, a district and sessions court issued on Wednesday non-bailable arrest warrants for suspected target killer Rizwan Qureshi.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker has been absconding since a joint investigation team (JIT) report quoted him telling the ‘inside story’ of the Baldia factory fire in January.
According to the report submitted by the Rangers to the Sindh High Court, the fire at Ali Enterprises started over the orders of MQM’s senior officials. It shifted the trajectory of the case, which was earlier seen as an accident, to a terrorism act, prompting the authorities to carry out a re-investigation.
The newly appointed judge at the judicial complex court inside the central prison also issued warrants for the suspect’s guarantors, who have reportedly gone in hiding after appearing before the court only once.
* Baldia factory fire: Reinvestigation taking place as new IO appears in court:
The Baldia factory fire case took another twist on Saturday, as a new investigation officer (IO) turned up in court.
SP Sajid Sadozai appeared before the trial court, submitting that he was the new case IO, appointed for a reinvestigation last month by the relevant authorities. The move came when the case was about to reach the indictment process, as copies of all the prosecution-related documents had been supplied to the accused.
When the additional district and sessions judge V of District West, Naushaba Kazi, asked the newly appointed IO about the completion of the reinvestigation on his part, Sadozai replied that he could not provide her with a timeframe.
The IO also moved an application seeking possession of the computers of the Ali Enterprises factory owners and employees, which was approved by the judge.
* Police seek computer record of Baldia factory employees:
A sessions court was informed on Saturday that reinvestigation was being conducted in the Baldia garment factory fire case.
The industrial unit owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmud and Ali Mohammad were arrested for the killing of over 250 workers in the factory blaze in September 2012.
During a previous hearing, the court had asked the prosecutor to inform it whether a reinvestigation was ordered after the defence counsel pointed it out during the proceedings.
When the case came up for hearing before additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi on Saturday, SP Sajid Sadozai turned up and informed the judge that the reinvestigation was ordered last month and he was appointed the new investigating officer of the case.
* Five MQM men get life term for attacking police van:
Five Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists were handed down life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court on Tuesday after the prosecution provided sufficient evidence to prove that they had attacked a police van in 2013.
Separately, another anti-terrorism court remanded three MQM activists, Majid Baig, Abdullah and Muhammad Mansoor, in Rangers custody for 90 days so that they could be interrogated in the case of the 2012 Baldia factory fire in which at least 258 people were killed.
The Baldia factory fire case had taken a drastic turn when Rangers submitted before the high court that a joint investigation team report revealed the MQM’s involvement in the blaze.
A detained suspect, Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, had claimed that MQM activists were involved in setting the factory on fire.
He revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million through his front-man from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.
* Families of Baldia factory:
fire victims assured of German company’s support
Families of the Baldia factory fire victims’ were assured of the German company KiK Texitilien’s, the main client of the factory, support for provision of justice as well as compensation money by a six-member delegation of the German South-Asian Parliamentary Group on Friday.
German Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Cyrill Nunn, Consul General of Germany in Karachi Dr Tilo Klinner and Consul and Deputy Head of Mission Mr Hans-Jürgen Paschke also accompanied the delegation.
The assurances came after Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Executive Director Karamat Ali announced to pursue a case against the German company after it retracted from the initial agreement of providing long term compensation to the families.
Ali while welcoming the assurances informed of the German company’s agreement regarding the compensation to be paid to the victims’ families. “As a first step, the KiK Textilien provided $1million for immediate compensation,” which he said was disbursed by a judicial commission formed by the SHC on PILER’s request.
* Baldia factory fire: German lawmakers assure support to grieving families:
* Delegates say Germans are worried about condition of workers in Pakistan
A delegation of German lawmakers on Friday assured grieving families of people who lost their lives in Baldia Factory of their support to justice and compensation from German buying company KiK Textilien, main buyer of garment products from Ali Enterprises.
A six-member delegation of German-South Asian Parliamentary Group of German Parliament (Bundestag) currently on a friendship visit to Pakistan led by Niels Annen, an MP of Social Democratic Party of Germany, was keen to meet representatives of victims’ families as well as representatives of trade unions in Pakistan.
PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali said after incident, German buying company entered into an agreement with PILER victims’ families.
As a first step, KiK Textilin provided $1 million for immediate compensation for victims’ families.
PILER requested Sindh High Court to disburse amount through a judicial commission and court formed a commission headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court.
The procedure of verification was quite lengthy and commission took about a year to determine legal heirs of victims, thus entire amount was disbursed through Commission.
Besides victims’ families, the injured workers also received compensation from that money, he added.
He pointed out KiK adopted delaying tactics to provide long-term compensation to family, as earlier it had agreed in written accord.
“Keeping in view attitude of KiK, we have decided filing a case against KiK under German laws,” he said. He requested German parliamentarians to provide assistance in this regard.
* Rizwan Qureshi trial: No judge, no suspect and the case lingers on:
The case against the alleged target killer, Rizwan Qureshi, who had made stark revelations about the Baldia factory fire incident, may linger on as the court trying him has gone vacant.
Qureshi, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker according to court documents, was arrested in June 2013 for possessing an illegal weapon. He was later implicated in five other cases of murder, based on his confessions during interrogation.
The suspect was granted bail in all the cases against him and was appearing before the court regularly for the hearings until a joint investigation team’s (JIT) report was made public.
The JIT, in subject, quoted Qureshi as saying that there were MQM workers behind the Baldia factory inferno.
The report also quoted him as saying that the blaze in which at least 250 people were burnt to death was allegedly perpetrated over refusal to pay a hefty amount in extortion.
Over his repeated absence, a District South court at the judicial complex inside the Karachi Central Jail had issued non-bailable warrants for him during the two previous hearings.
His guarantors were also issued notices. But they failed to inform the court about his whereabouts.
* Team records employees’ statements in Baldia Town factory fire:
A probe team recorded statements Baldia Town garment factory’s employees to understand causes of fire.
Team inspected the entire place after recording employees’ statements. The new investigative team has formally started investigating. SSP East Pir Muhammad Shah, SP Site Sajid Sadozai and other officials of security agencies visited Baldia Town.
According to the sources, statements of four of the gatekeepers have so far been recorded. New investigative team had been set up after report of previous Joint Investigative Team.
Rizwan Qureshi had said Baldia Town factory did not catch fire as an accident but he alleged extortion mafia of MQM had set it on fire.
* Baldia Town incident: Investigative team records employees’ statements:
Investigative team of the Baldia Town incident on Monday recorded the statements of the factory employees.
To understand the causes of the incient, the team arrived at the factory and inspected the entire place after recording employees’ statements, reported Dunya News.
The new investigative team has formally started investigating the Baldia Town incident. SSP East Pir Muhammad Shah, SP Site Sajid Sadozai and other officials of the security agencies visited Baldia Town. Heavy deployment of the police was observed on this occasion on Baldia Town factory.
According to the sources, statements of four of the gatekeepers have so far been recorded.
New investigative team had been set up after the report by the previous Joint Investigative Team (JIT) carrying suspect Rizwan Qureshi’s statements. Rizwan Qureshi had said that the Baldia Town factory did not catch fire as an accident but the extortion mafia had set it on fire.
* FIA arrests Baldia factory fire suspect at airport:
The Federal Investigation Agency arrested a Baldia Factory fire suspect at the Karachi airport on Friday.
Asim Qaimkhani, the FIA immigrations deputy director at the Jinnah Terminal, said when a passenger, Abdul Rehman, son of Abdul Sattar, who was intending to leave for Dubai via an Etihad Airways flight, reached the immigration counter, the staff stopped him suspecting that he was on the exit-control list.
* Alleged main accused in Baldia factory case arrested at Karachi airport:
Police have arrested the alleged main suspect in the Baldia factory fire case, Abdul Rehman alias Bhola on Friday, trying to flee to Dubai from Karachi airport.
Earlier today, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi sent another key suspect of the factory case, Shakeel alias Chhota, to jail on a 14-day remand.
Shakeel was presented in the ATC today, where a judge sent him to jail on a 14-day remand along with other suspects Hameed, Shehzad and Farooq.
Police say Shakeel was arrested on March 22 along with his alleged accomplices from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on charges of possessing illegal weapons.
* Baldia factory fire suspect sent to jail on 14-day remand:
An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Friday sent a key suspect of the Baldia factory fire case, Shakeel alias Chhota, to jail on a 14-day remand.
Shakeel was presented in the ATC today, where a judge sent him to jail on a 14-day remand along with other suspects Hameed, Shehzad and Farooq.
* JIT clears Shakeel alias Chhota in Baldia factory fire case:
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) interrogating Shakeel alias Chhota, declared him innocent late on Thursday night, in the Baldia factory fire case.
The JIT deemed the statements of the accused to be against the facts.
Police had arrested Shakeel on March 22 and had claimed that, in his confession he admitted that he along with other accomplices set fire to Baldia factory in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive.
According to police, Shakeel was apprehended from the precincts of Preedy Police Station.
The accused said he along with his accomplices loaded a chemical container onto a vehicle and carried it to Baldia town to set the target on fire.
He said that they first tied the factory’s security guard and then ignited fire near its power generator.
* Baldia factory fire investigation: Past deadline, JIT has not even decided on composition yet:
The provincial government had constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the 2012 Baldia Town factory fire incident on the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The latter had called for a reinvestigation during the apex committee meeting held at the Governor House in Karachi last month.
The newly-formed JIT was tasked to complete its investigations and present a report within 30 days. The deadline may have already passed but not only has the JIT not started investigations, even its composition has not been finalised yet.
In the latest development, the police department has removed the investigation officer of the case, Inspector Jahanzaib of the SITE-B Section police station, from the new JIT. He had been investigating the case from day one. He has been replaced by SP Sajid Sadozai.
The new JIT was commissioned by the prime minister as the earlier report, prepared and submitted to the Sindh High Court by an earlier JIT, had blamed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the incident.
The party had, however, denied any involvement and termed the charges ‘fictitious’ and ‘biased’. It had also demanded a reinvestigation of the incident.
* Baldia factory fire suspect held:
The Preedy police on Wednesday night arrested three suspects including Shakeel alias Chota who was allegedly involved in torching of a garments factory in Baldia Town which claimed at least 250 lives in 2012.
The Preedy police said they had received information about the presence of criminals near Empress market and had subsequently raided the designated location behind Rainbow Centre two days ago.
They said when the police party had reached the hideout of criminals, who were said to be affiliated with a political party, the accused opened fire.
A shootout between the two parties had ensued, following which the police had arrested three suspects, including Shakeel alias Chota, who were brought to the police stations and handed over to for interrogation.
* Political worker confesses setting Baldia factory on fire:
A suspect arrested from Karachi’s Saddar Town confessed setting a garment factory on fire in Baldia Town back in 2012, ARY News reported on Wednesday.
The criminal named Shakeel arrested with four of his accomplices from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on Sunday revealed before the investigators that he and his aides set fire to the garment factory.
The fire in Baldia Town’s garment factory killed more than 250 labourers.
Shakeel said that he and his accomplices went with some combustible chemical drum to the factory and some of his accomplices went inside to start the fire after overcoming the guards.
All of them escaped the place once the task was accomplished.
* Karachi: Arrested suspect admits setting Baldia Town factory on fire:
Suspected arrested for alleged involvement in Baldia Town factory incident on Wednesday admitted to the crime of setting the factory on fire.
According to the police, suspect named Shakeel alias Chota admitted that he set fire to the factory with the help of 6 accomplices. The police stated that the suspect revealed his involvement in the crime during interrogation.
The suspect was arrested from Preedi area of Karachi.
Preedi police had arrested the suspect on 22nd March in relation to the factory fire.
to read. & read more.
* Shakeel alias Chhota set fire to Baldia factory: police:
Police said on Wednesday that Shakeel alias Chhota in his confession admitted that he along with other accomplices set fire to Baldia factory in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive.
According to police, Shakeel was apprehended from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on March 22.
The accused said he along with his accomplices loaded a chemical container onto a vehicle and carried it to Baldia town to set the target on fire. He said that they first tied the factory’s security guard and then ignited fire near its power generator.
Police says six men were involved in executing the Baldia factory arson.
* Court seeks information on reinvestigation into Baldia factory case:
A sessions court asked on Saturday a prosecutor to inform it whether reinvestigation was ordered into the Baldia factory fire case after the defence moved an application to stop the proceedings.
The owner of the industrial unit, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, and his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers have been booked in the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt alive in September 2012.
When the case came up for hearing before additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi on Saturday, one of the defence lawyers moved an application asking the court to stop the proceedings since the case was being reinvestigated.
However, the public prosecutor said that he was unaware of any reinvestigation. The court asked the prosecutor to find out whether the case was being reinvestigated and inform it on the next hearing.
The court expressed its displeasure after it was informed that the Bhaila brothers did not turn up yet again and sent applications through their counsel for condonation of their absence on the ground that they were abroad.
* Baldia factory fire case: Trial court not informed about new JIT:
The Baldia factory fire case has seen its fair share of dramatic revelations and twists. Recently, the Sindh government ordered the constitution of a new joint investigation team to probe the incident.
The trial court has, however, been kept in the dark by the prosecution regarding these developments.
The district West court was asked by the counsel representing the accused factory owners on Saturday to stop the proceedings of the case until the new JIT formed under the Rapid Response Force chief, DIG Aftab Pathan, furnished its report.
The judge responded, however, that the court was not informed about any such development yet. She then questioned the newly-appointed special public prosecutor, Chaudhry Arshad Gill, if he had any such information.
He replied in the negative. “I have only heard about it,” he said. The investigation officer of the case, SI Jahanzeb, also said that a new JIT had been formed.
* Influential person demanded accountant of his choice in factory:
Target killers – Umair Siddiqui, Zubair and Faisal Mota, murderer of Geo News Reporter Wali Khan Babar – arrested by Rangers during a recent raid in Karachi, have disclosed that an influential personality had demanded extortion money of Rs20 crores (Rs200 million) from the Baldia Town factory and appointment of accountant of his choice.
Sources said during investigations the accused disclosed that the factory management had approached a cleric, who is a close aide of the influential personality, to settle the matter.
* NLF demands arrest of culprits:
The National Labour Federation (NLF) here on Thursday took out a protest rally to demand arrest of culprits involved in burning to death over 250 workers in Baldia Town factory fire incident in Karachi.
NLF central president Shamsur Rehman Swati, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Islamabad ameer Zubair Farooq Khan, NLF president for Rawalpindi and Islamabad Saqlain Bhatti and others addressed participants of the rally.
The protesters carried banners and placards inscribed with demands for arrest of murderers of 259 workers and announcement of compensation for heirs of victims. Shamsur Rehman Swati said that mass killing of poor workers by the agents of ‘Bhatta Mafia’ was black day for the working class and labourers who lost their 259 colleagues in tragic fire incident.
He said the culprits involved in the incident should be arrested and taken to task.
Zubair Farooq Khan said the concerned authorities should immediately take action on findings of the report of Joint Investigation Team (JIT). “Despite the JIT report, so far no action has been taken against the culprits,” he said.
* Baldia case: warrant out for suspect:
A sessions court on Tuesday issued non-bailable warrant for the arrest of Rizwan Qureshi, who has been on bail in half a dozen cases, again after his guarantors sought time to produce him in court.
Qureshi, who along with his accomplices, has been charged in an illicit weapon and five murder cases, made the headlines in recent weeks when the Pakistan Rangers filed a joint investigation team (JIT) report before the Sindh High Court during the hearing of a petition about the Baldia factory fire case.
The murder and illegal arms cases were fixed for evidence of prosecution witnesses before the additional district and sessions judge, Tariq Mehmood Khoso, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex in the central prison.
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* New joint investigation team formed to probe Baldia factory fire:
Seven-member team led by DIG RRF Aftab Ahmed Pathan will submit its findings within 30 days
The Sindh home department on Monday constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the Baldia fire tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 267 persons on September 11, 2011.
The new seven-member JIT has been ordered by the home department to submit its findings within the next 30 days.
The investigation team will be headed by DIG Sindh Rapid Response Force (RRF) Dr Aftab Ahmed Pathan.
Its members will include senior officials of the police, Rangers, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Earlier this year, the Baldia factory carnage came into the limelight once again when Sindh Rangers presented the JIT report of a criminal Rizwan Qureshi before the Sindh High Court.
* New Baldia factory fire probe team takes spy agencies on board:
The Sindh government on Monday reconstituted a committee for the reinvestigation of the 2012 Baldia factory fire case by appointing a new head and including representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau in it, officials said.
The officials said that the home department notified the reconstituted body that replaced additional IG Sindh police Khadim Hussain Bhatti with DIG Rapid Response Force Dr Aftab Pathan.
One of the members of the previously-notified body DIG crime branch Mushtaq Mahar had also been replaced with DIG-East Munir Sheikh, they added.
* Factory Fire: Baldia JIT chief replaced:
Crime Branch AIG Khadim Hussain Bhatti, appointed to head the new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Baldia factory fire tragedy, has been replaced by Rapid Response Force chief DIG Dr Aftab Pathan.
The Sindh home department has reconstituted the JIT on the recommendation of Sindh IG Ghulam Hyder Jamali, department special secretary Nawaz Shaikh confirmed to The Express Tribune.
District East police chief DIG Munir Shaikh has further been added to the JIT, while the intelligence agencies have been asked to nominate their representatives. Sources informed The Express Tribune that the decision to replace Bhatti was taken after it came to Jamali’s notice that he was facing some cases by the Federal Investigation Agency.
* Baldia factory fire victims move court against German brand:
A case has been filed in a German court for the payment of compensation to the families of the Baldia factory fire victims, while a similar case will be filed in an Italian court against the firm that had issued a social audit certificate to the factory.
Four heirs of the victims filed the case against the German brand, KIK, in the Regional Court of Dortmund, seeking compensation of 30,000 Euros for each of the bereaved families.
The development was shared with the media by representatives of Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association and labour leaders at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation said that the case was filed as the German brand, KIK, whose products were produced at the Ali Enterprise, had refused to pay some remaining amount of the compensation.
He said that 15 heirs of the victims would also sue the Italian company, RINA, which had issued the social audit certificate to Ali Enterprises, in a court in Milan, Italy within the next few days.
* Baldia factory fire: Retailer comes under fierce criticism:
Last week, a few residents of Berlin, Germany, barged into an outlet of KiK – the German retailer that sourced products from the ill-fated Baldia factory – and damaged their store, saying that their clothes were being made with the blood of Pakistanis.
This incident was shared by the deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Nasir Mansoor, while speaking at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
According to Mansoor, the German company was supposed to compensate the families of the victims, but they paid only Rs1 million as initial amount and then backed out. “That’s why we have now filed the case of pain and suffering against the German brand, KiK, in the High Court of Dortmund, Germany, demanding a compensation of 30,000 Euros for each family.”
He further told the press that German lawyer Dr Remo Klinger will represent them in the German court, while different labour organisations, namely European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Medico International, have also been assisting them.
Italian company Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) that had issued the social audit certificate to the Ali Enterprise has also been sued by 15 heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims and NTUF in a court of Milan, Italy.
* Heirs of four victims move German court:
Four heirs of the victims of Baldia factory fire tragedy have lodged a case for pain and suffering in the High Court of Dortmund, Germany, against company KIK — for which the Ali Enterprises manufactured garments — to demand payment of livelihood damages worth 30,000 Euros to each plaintiff family.
In a press conference held simultaneously in Karachi and Berlin, the representatives of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association said that German clothing brand KIK had refused to continue talks for final payment of compensation to heirs.
This, they said, was tantamount of backing out of its promise to pay the remaining amount in terms of livelihood damages.
The heirs who have lodged the case in German court, Saeeda Khatoon, Mohammad Jabir, Abdul Aziz Khan and Mohammad Hanif, will be represented by Dr Remo Klinner.
Moreover, they revealed, 15 more heirs were planning to sue Italian audit firm RINA in a court in Milan. In this regard, the required documents will be deposited to the Italian embassy next week.
Besides, a case for acquisition of gratuities has also been filed with the compensation commissioner in Sindh and is being managed by Rathi Advocate and demanded that it be decided as soon as possible.
The representatives, including NTUF’s deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor and the four plaintiffs were of the view that the demands of heirs were being pushed into the background by the government and the stakeholders concerned.
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* Deadly factory fire: Activist says MQM men ignited Baldia blaze: Rangers:
One of the suspects detained during the March 11 raid on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s headquarters has confessed that a 2012 deadly inferno at a garment factory in Karachi was ignited by one of the party’s sector in-charges, the Rangers said on Saturday.
More than 250 workers were burnt alive in the blaze at the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town of Karachi on September 11, 2012. MQM activist Umair Siddiqui admitted during interrogation that his party’s sector in-charge for Baldia Town, Rehman alias Bhola, and his aides were behind the deadly conflagration, the paramilitary force said in an official statement.
* Detainee reveals MQM sector in-charge burnt Baldia factory:
Umair Siddiqui admits to killing 120 MQM opponents on orders of Hammad Siddique *Weapons for MQM’s armed wing were purchased from a dealer in Quetta and shifted to Nine Zero in ambulances *250-300 target killers reside in Nine Zero neighborhood
Detained Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Umair Siddiqui has confessed that MQM sector in-charge Rehman Bhola was the man behind the deadly 2012 Baldia Town fire that killed at least 258 factory workers, according to a statement issued by the Rangers on Saturday.
“Umair Siddiqui admitted MQM sector in-charge set Baldia factory on fire,” the Rangers spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that Siddiqui, who was presented in an anti-terrorism court on Saturday, confessed to having been given the task of killing the MQM opponents, and that he has been involved in 120 target killings.
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* Arrested suspect offers to become approver:
A hardened criminal arrested by the Rangers during a raid at the MQM headquarters — Nine Zero — has offered the law-enforcement agencies to become an approver in Baldia Town factor fire case, sources told The News on Friday.
Abdur Rehman alias Bhola was key accused in the Baldia Town factory fire which killed more than 250 people.
According to the report compiled by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Bhola along with his unknown accomplices threw a chemical on the walls and gates that ignited a huge blaze at the factory.
* MQM party worker admits sector incharge started Baldia factory fire:
Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Umair Siddiqui has admitted that a party sector incharge set the Baldia factory ablaze in 2012, Express News reported.
“Umair Siddiqui admitted MQM sector incharge Abdur Rahman set Baldia factory on fire,” a Rangers spokesperson said on Saturday.
* MQM worker says Sector In-charge set Baldia Factory on fire:
Detained Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Umair Siddiqui has been involved in 120 target killings, Rangers asserted on Saturday.
Siddiqui allegedly also confessed that MQM Sector In-charge Rehman Bhola was the man behind the deadly 2012 Baldia Town fire that consumed at least 258 factory workers.
Rangers personnel had presented a report to the Sindh High Court in February this year which revealed that the MQM had set the factory ablaze.
The information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.
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* Baldia factory fire owners, other suspects to be indicted on 21st:
A sessions court on Saturday fixed March 21 for the indictment of suspects on different charges in the Baldia garment factory fire case.
Owner of the industrial unit Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, factory general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers were booked in the 2012 fire incident that left 258 workers dead.
During the previous hearing, the court had issued a warrant for the arrest of police investigating officer Jahanzeb over his absence.
When the case came up for hearing before additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi on Saturday, a senior police officer produced the IO in court. The IO through a written apology stated that he could not attend the previous hearing due to his poor health and also submitted a report on the statements of the prosecution witnesses recorded under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code.
* Baldia fire investigations: Two officers say their inclusion in new JIT ‘not sound’ :
Two officers who were nominated for the new joint investigation team (JIT) formed to reinvestigate the Baldia factory fire believe their inclusion was ‘technically not sound’.
SSP Farooq Awan, who heads the Special Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Agency, and its DIG Sultan Khwaja, were part of the original inquiry committee and feel confident about their earlier investigations into the fire that killed over 259 workers on September 11, 2012.
Commenting on media reports that he had ‘refused’ to join the new investigation team, SSP Awan told The Express Tribune that certain television channels had blown up the issue to cast doubts on the new investigation team.
“The new JIT, headed by AIG Khadim Hussain Bhatti of the police’s crime branch, had proposed the inclusion of the CIA among its cadre,” said SSP Awan. Yet the proposal could not materialise because it was technically not correct, he added.
* Baldia factory case: IO apologises for absence from previous hearings:
Investigation Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb for the Baldia factory fire case submitted a written apology at a session court on Saturday for not being present at previous hearings on the matter.
Once again, factory owners were not present for the hearing and the court directed authorities to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against them if they fail to appear for the next hearing scheduled for March 21.
The industrial unit’s owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers were booked in connection with the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt alive.
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* Widow from 2012 Factory Fire Launches Community Petition:
Yesterday, Mrs. Shahida Parveen, a widow as a result of a 2012 tragic
factory fire in Baldia town on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, launched
a community petition on the online activist website Avaaz.
Mrs. Parveen is currently campaigning to ensure that she and all the victims of the Ali Enterprises factory fire receive long-term compensation from KiK, a German
discount retailer and the main buyer from the factory.
Her petition and campaign against KiK may be eligible for a $10,000 grant, as recently announced on facebook that Avaaz members will help identify 10 campaigns to support.
On September 11, 2012, a fire ripped through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 254 people and injuring another 55 people.
The fire at the Ali Enterprises factory is now recognized as the worst industrial tragedy in Pakistan to date.
Investigations into the cause of the fire uncovered that just weeks before the fire, Ali Enterprises passed an audit on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA, and received a SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification.
Ali Enterprises received this certification despite the fact that there were no emergency exits; the windows were barred; and an entire mezzanine floor had been illegally built on.
Mrs. Parveen’s husband was among victims who burned and boiled to death in the fire.
Many survivors where forced to jump from the roof of the building, suffering significant injuries.
“God only knows what happened to my husband and all the people trapped in that factory”, states Mrs. Parveen in her petition. “I never found my husband’s body, even after months of DNA tests. He was among the unidentified bodies, which were eventually buried.” In the petition she describes falling unconscious upon hearing that her husband burned to death in the factory.
In January 2013, KiK, the main buyer (75% to 80% of goods were purchased by KiK) from the factory at the time of the fire, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) agreeing to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long-term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders.
Despite the existence of this signed agreement, KiK has failed to comply with the terms of the MOU.
Specifically, with regard to the provision of long-term compensation, KiK has imposed unnecessary delay in the negotiations with PILER on behalf of the victims.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is concerned that KiK is engaging in various stalling tactics in order to avoid paying long-term compensation.
Additionally, the MOU required KiK to pay a sum of USD 250,000 for future labour standard enforcement, and this also has yet to be paid.
PILER continues to support the victims’ families in Pakistan in their efforts to hold KiK accountable to the terms of the MOU in order to receive long-term compensation for all the victims and injured workers.
Mrs. Parveen identified the reason behind starting her petition, “I’m sharing my story because after all that we have been through, none of us should continue to suffer. And, yet, by denying us long term compensation, KiK is prolonging the suffering of all of the victims of the factory fire.”
The safety audit company RINA and the safety certification body SAI, which issued a safety certificate to the factory just a week before the blaze, have also not yet contributed any compensation.
“It’s clear that KiK is attempting to use their stockpiles of money and power to weasel their way out of taking responsibility regardless of their legal liability”, says Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.
“We believe that the arch of justice is on our side, it’s just a matter of time.
However, many of these families do not have the luxury of time to continue this fight for justice indefinitely since they are facing the devastating affects of poverty.
That’s where this Avaaz community petition and possible grant comes in. Achieving access to such resources and support from the global Avaaz community would be a game changer from us.
Right now, people might think of our fight against KiK as a typical underdog tale.
With the support of the Avaaz community, the current power imbalance would
be realigned, providing for once again David to win against Goliath”.
read more and please sign. & read more.
* Baldia factory fire: Rangers to name suspects, party:
Vowing to arrest those behind the deadly Baldia factory fire, the Rangers have claimed to identify the suspects and a political party responsible for the incident.
Meanwhile, the new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the tragedy has started compiling a list of the suspects, victims and informers in order to record their statements.
A meeting was held at the Rangers headquarters in Karachi on Tuesday, chaired by Sindh Rangers director-general (DG) Bilal Akbar, who expressed his concern over interference in the investigation by ‘certain elements’. The meeting was also attended by the Rangers deputy director-general, sector commanders and intelligence officials.
“During the meeting, threats to the victims’ families and the investigation officer (IO) by a certain extortionist group also came under discussion,” said a Rangers spokesperson.
* Criminals trying to affect probe, say Rangers:
Rangers said on Tuesday that a gang of extortionists was trying to influence the investigation into the Baldia factory fire.
A spokesperson for the paramilitary force said the gang was issuing threats to the case’s investigation officer and the relatives of the fire victims.
The issue of threats was discussed at a Rangers meeting presided over by the force’s director general Major General Bilal Akbar.
The Rangers deputy director general, sector commanders and intelligence officials attended the meeting.
The spokesperson said the participants of the meeting expressed serious concerns over the efforts by some elements to influence the investigation.
* Man behind Baldia fire disclosures missing: Rangers:
Suspect Rizwan Qureshi has ‘disappeared mysteriously’, it emerged a month after his disclosure to a joint investigation team (JIT) — citing non-payment of Rs200 million protection money as the motive for the arson attack on the Baldia factory — whose report was filed in court.
The development was highlighted by Pakistan Rangers at a meeting held on Tuesday to review progress in the Baldia factory fire investigation.
Though not quite explanatory, an official statement issued after the meeting, which was chaired by Rangers director general Major General Bilal Akbar, mentioned brief details of investigation findings indicating that there was a threat to the police investigation officer and the families of the fire victims.
20150303 * Attempts being made to influence Baldia fire probe: Rangers:
Sindh Rangers on Tuesday expressed concern over attempts by ‘certain elements’ to influence the investigation into the Baldia Town Factory inferno in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive.
A high-level meeting of Sindh Rangers was held here under the chairmanship of DG Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar to review Karachi’s law and order situation.
According to details, the meeting which was attended by Sector Commandos and Intelligence officials, reviewed the matter of sudden disappearance of Rizwan Qureshi, the key suspect in Baldia factory fire case.
* Call to punish culprits of Baldia factory fire:
Singer Jawad Ahmed, who sang for the victims of the Baldia factory fire and has been struggling for the cause of their families since the incident occurred in September 2012, has demanded fresh investigation into the incident — reckoned as the worst fire in the country’s history — and asked the authorities concerned to punish the culprits no matter how they were influential or belonged to any group or party.
“It is a secondary thing whether this case is being tried in a military court or any other court, the affected families want punishment for those who were behind the killing of so many innocent people,” said Ahmed, now a leader of his organisation called International Youth and Workers Movement, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
“All politicians do speak about the rights of labourers, but none of them have launched an effective movement to attain those rights. All political parties want to protect the capitalist system to their own advantage,” said Ahmed.
“The minimum wage for a labourer is Rs12,000 a month, I humbly ask our political leaders that can they run their house with such a meagre amount?”
He said the Baldia incident exposed the worst conditions at workplaces and those conditions could only be improved through sustained and sincere efforts.
He said it was time to take practical measures for workers’ rights.
20150301 * Voicing concern: Jawad Ahmad to launch movement for labourers:
The labour community in Pakistan need to start a political movement against the injustices meted out by industrialists since no political party in the country is ready to speak up for them. This was proclaimed by renowned singer and central committee member of the International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM), Jawad Ahmad.
Ahmad announced that his organisation, IYWM, will start a political movement for labourers across the country.
The campaign that has already begun in Punjab will gather the youth, students, farmers and labourers and attempt to unite them for the cause. “We think the labour community should start a political movement.
For this, I request trade union leaders and the labour fraternity to join hands and be part of it.”
At a press conference with the representatives of the Pakistan National Trade Unions Federation on Sunday, Ahmed shared his song, ‘sun lo keh hum mazdoor hain’, which he composed after the incident of the Baldia factory fire in September 2012.
In the past few months, Ahmed has taken his message of unity and solidarity to other cities of the country as the incidences of labor victimisation have become increasingly common.
With regards to the recent political turn that the Baldia factory fire case has taken, Ahmed said that to this day, no one was talking about the real issues at hand inside the factory sites.
“Not a single party in Pakistan is working to address labourers’ issues.
* Baldia factory fire: NBWs issued for Rizwan Qureshi:
A district and sessions court has issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) of arrest for Rizwan Qureshi, who revealed alleged political involvement in the Baldia factory fire tragedy, in a number of cases of targeted killings and possession of illicit weapons.
According to a joint investigation team report submitted to the Sindh High Court in the first week of February, Qureshi had told interrogators that members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had been involved in the incident that claimed 260 lives on September 11, 2012.
Qureshi has been booked in five cases of murder and one of possessing illicit weapons. He failed to appear before the court on February 25, his first hearing since his allegations became public. Justice Tariq Mehmood Khoso therefore issued NBWs for the suspect as well as notices for his guarantors. The next hearing is on March 17.
* New probe into Baldia factory fire begins:
A four-member team launched a new probe into the Baldia factory fire case on Thursday and decided to sit daily to examine the first investigation report of police that contained some 7,000 documents.
The investigation team headed by the additional inspector general of Sindh police, Khadim Hussain Bhatti, first called Sub-Inspector Jahanzaib, the investigation officer of the case, before wrapping up its brief introductory meeting.
A brief statement released to media about the meeting said: “Former IO of the case Sub-Inspector Jahanzaib appeared before the committee and informed it of details of the case.
It was decided that the committee comprising Additional IG-Crime Branch Khadim Hussain Bhatti, DIG Mushtaq Mahar, Colonel Sajjad Bashir of Rangers and Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Altaf Hussain will meet daily to complete the re-investigation of the case as early as possible.”
* Baldia factory fire: New committee meets, testifies ex-IO:
The first meeting of newly formed probe committee on Baldia Town factory fire was held in the chair of Additional Inspector General Crime Branch Khadim Hussain here on Thursday.
The members of the team, Rangers Colonel Sajjad Bashir, FIA Additional Director Altaf Hussain and DIG Crime Branch Mushtaq Mahar participated in the meeting.
* Probe ordered against SSP for covering up Badlia JIT report:
The Karachi Baldia Town factory inferno case has taken a new turn after it transpired that a senior police official covered up the final Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report despite having received it in June 2013.
Reliable sources told Online that Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nasir Aftab received the final JIT report of the factory fire in June 2013, but he deliberately concealed it from police high-ups, thus providing an easy escape for the suspects behind the episode.
Officials of Sindh Police, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Rangers had compiled the JIT report before submitting it to SSP Aftab.
Police sources said that had the JIT report been forwarded to the police high-ups on time, the main suspects behind the heinous crime could have been apprehended before they were produced before a court with the JIT report.
* Court issues non-bailable arrest warrants of IO on Baldia Town factory fire:
An Additional District and Sessions Judge West Noshaba Qazi issued non-bailable warrants for arrest of an investigation officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jahanzaib over his absence in hearing of Baldia Town factory fire case.
The court also ordered stopping payment his salary for not appearing before court during hearing.
Baldia Town case came up for hearing on Saturday. The court expressed resentment over non-appearance of IO before it and remarked the IO has committed contempt of court and as to why contempt of court notice be not issued to him.
The court ordered report in respect of medical certificates of culprits be presented before it on next hearing.
The counsels told court factory owners could not appear being ill and their attendance in court would be ensured on next hearing. Prosecutor Shazia Hinjra told court she has rescued from this case.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Arrest warrant out for Baldia factory fire case investigator:
A court on Saturday issued a non-bailable warrant for the arrest of the investigation officer in Baldia Town fire case.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Noshaba Kazi has taken notice of a statement by Advocate Shazia Hanjra, who had resigned as the key public prosecutor, claiming that the IO had not extended his cooperation and not provided her with written investigative reports on the case.
The court took serious note of the absence of the IO and fixed March 7 as next date of hearing.
* Possible outcome of fresh Baldia fire probe:
Fresh investigation into 2012 Baldia factory fire may get more hype in the media and in the political circles with the passage of time, but the chances of the families of 258 victims getting justice look bleak.
It is premature to say what direction the new probe will take, but certainly we may see new accused, new evidences, new witnesses and new trial, which may take months or even years.
At the very outset, the new case direction must have brought a sigh of relief to the factory management, including its owner, his son, manager and other staff, who were cited as the accused in the case.
So, the immediate beneficiaries are not the workers but the factory owners.
It is yet to be seen if they will remain accused in the fresh probe or become witness. What will now be the status of the case pending with the Karachi sessions court? Will the state withdraw its case against the accused, who are already on bail?
What about the list of 950 prosecution witnesses submitted to the court?
Will there be a fresh FIR of the case?
What about the evidences already on court record like forensic or chemical, which would be crucial for the fresh trial?
* Baldia factory fire: Court issues arrest warrant against investigation officer:
The Karachi City Court issued on Wednesday a non-bailable arrest warrant against Investigation Officer Inspector Jahanzaib for not appearing before the court in the Baldia factory fire case, Express News reported.
The owner of the targeted Baldia garment factory was also not present during the hearing.
As a result, the court adjourned the hearing till March 7 and ordered police to ensure that the owner appears before the court next time.
Earlier, On February 16, Special public prosecutor for the case, Shazia Hanjrah, had resigned.
20150221-22 * Baldia factory fire suspects should be hanged publicly: Altaf Hussain:
Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain appealed on Saturday to army chief General Raheel Sharif for a fair investigation into the Baldia factory fire case, Express News reported.
The MQM chief asked the army chief to constitute an investigative team comprising of military officers to probe the deadly blaze which killed more than 259 factory workers.
“A special chowk (roundabout) should be formed where those responsible for the fire should be hanged,” Altaf further said.
Earlier, the Rangers placed the blame of the Baldia factory fire on the MQM in a report submitted to the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Names of Baldia factory fire suspects put on ECL:
The interior ministry on Thursday placed the names of six accused of the Baldia factory fire in the Exit Control List (ECL) on Thursday to prevent them from fleeing the country.
The accused are Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee’s (KTC) former incharge Hammad Siddiqui, Javed Shakeel, Muhammad Rizwan Qureshi, Abdur Rehman alias Bhola, Asghar Baig and Majid Baig.
The Sindh government had requested the federal government to place the names of accused in the ECL after a Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) report was made public for their alleged involvement in the Baldia factory fire, which claimed 259 lives.
* Names of ‘MQM men’ blamed in Baldia fire JIT report placed on ECL:
The interior ministry has placed six names, including those of five Baldia factory fire suspects described as senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists in a joint investigation team (JIT) report, on the Exit Control List, said an official on Thursday.
While the home department claimed that all the six names had been recommended by the police on the basis of the JIT report, the sixth name was not mentioned in the recently publicised JIT report.
The Sindh home department official said the provincial authorities received confirmation from Islamabad that the names of all the six people, which had been recommended by the police investigators for further investigation, were placed on the ECL and all the institutions concerned were informed about it.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* IG Sindh puts forward names of officers to probe Baldia factory fire:
Ghulam Haider Jamali, Inspector General Sindh Police, on Wednesday wrote a letter to the provincial Home Department, seeking formation of a team of investigators to further probe the Baldia Town factory inferno that devoured over 250 people.
The IG suggested appointment of Additional IG Crime Khadim Hussain Bhatti as head of the proposed team besides induction of DIG Crime Branch Mushtaq Shah as member of the panel.
He also proposed inclusion of representatives of FIA and Rangers for the investigation team.
The IG said that the probe team is being formed under the directives of the prime minister and in the light of JIT report.
20150219 * 2012 fiery incident: New JIT formed to probe Baldia factory fire:
The provincial government has constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the 2012 Baldia Town factory fire incident which claimed the lives of around 259 workers in Karachi.
The decision was taken by the Sindh Home Department after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered reinvestigation by forming a new JIT during the apex committee meeting held at Governor House Sindh in Karachi recently.
According to the notification issued by the Home Ministry on Wednesday, the newly formed body would be headed by Additional IG Sindh Police’s Crime Branch Khadim Hussain Bhatti while officials of other law enforcement and intelligence agencies including Director Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and DIG Crimes Mushtaq Maher will be members of the team.
Earlier, a report prepared and submitted to the Sindh High Court by a JIT blamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the incident, however, the party had denied its involvement and termed the charge ‘fictitious’ and ‘biased’. It had also demanded for reinvestigation of the Baldia garment factory fire incident.
The newly formed JIT will reinvestigate the Baldia incident and also analyse the previous JIT report before sending it to the federal government upon completion.
* New JIT to re-investigate Baldia factory fire:
Karachi- The Government has constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into 2012 Baldia factory fire, that left over 260 workers dead in Karachi.
A report prepared and submitted in court by a previous JIT blamed Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the incident; however, the party denies its involvement. Sources said, the newly formed body would be headed by Additional IG, Khadim Hussain Bhatti, comprising Director FIA Shahid Hayat, DIG Mushtaq Mahar and officials from Rangers and security agencies.
Describing the incident’s enquiry a “very serious matter”, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, two days back, had promised reinvestigation. He vowed to bring the culprits to book for justice to victim families.
* Investigating high-profile crimes: JIT reports inadmissible in court, say legal experts:
Although the reports of interrogation conducted by joint investigation teams (JITs) lack the status of legally admissible evidence in courts of law, they can still help law enforcers trace those responsible for high-profile crimes, such as, most recently, the Baldia factory fire.
Legal experts believe that these JITs help aid law enforcement agencies in their investigations while working on cases of extremism, terrorism and ethnic violence.
What is a JIT?
In high-profile criminal cases, the provincial home department constitutes a JIT to probe into the matter.
“These teams comprise of members of the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Military Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, the Rangers and the police,” explained a government law officer.
“The involvement of the agencies working under the federal and provincial governments varies, depending upon the nature of the incident.”
* Prosecutor in Baldia factory fire case steps down:
Special prosecutor Shazia Hanjra separated herself from the Baldia Town case and sent a written notification in this regard to the Sindh government on Monday.
Hanjra confirmed to Dawn that she has submitted her resignation to the Ministry of Law. A private practicing lawyer, Hanjra was appointed special public prosecutor for the Baldia Town factory fire case on behalf of the state.
Hanjra said investigating authorities had not been cooperating with her and that Investigating Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb had given a no objection certificate to the factory owners’ bail application. She added that the IO had still not given her a copy of investigation documents.
The prosecutor expressed her concerns regarding the delay in the case and said that the Sindh High Court’s directives were not being followed by the government and that was due to the lack of cooperation by the investigation officer.
* Special public prosecutor in Baldia factory fire quits:
Advocate Shazia Hanjra has quit from representing the state as special public prosecutor in the Baldia Town factory fire case.
The lawyer separated herself from the case after writing a letter to the law ministry.It is learnt that Hanjra was not provided due security as no police personnel was deployed for her protection.
It is further learnt that Hanjra was not satisfied with the process of the trial on the part of the prosecution as the Investigation Officer (IO) had not yet provided her the entire information and written reports regarding the investigation into the Baldia Town
read more. & read more.
* Baldia factory fire: Special public prosecutor resigns as police refuse to help:
The Baldia factory fire case suffered another setback when the special public prosecutor assisting the court in the fire case resigned citing lack of cooperation from the police investigator.
In 2012, Shazia Hanjrah, a practicing high court lawyer who works with the law firm owned by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Farooq H Naek, was appointed by the provincial law department as a special public prosecutor to assist the trial court in a case against the owners of Ali Enterprises.
“I have sent my resignation to the provincial law and home departments, the prosecutor general and Sindh IG,” said Hanjrah while talking to The Express Tribune on Monday.
Around 259 men and women died in the fire at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012 located in the Baldia industrial neighbourhood. A case was lodged against the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhailla and his sons, Arshad and Shahid, and their employees.
Hanjrah had been associated with the case for two years and blamed her resignation on lack of cooperation from the police investigator in the high-profile case, which is still pending trial.
“For a successful trial in any criminal case, there needs to be complete cooperation between the prosecutor and investigating officer. It is a must,” she said.
“The police official investigating the case was not sharing any material regarding the investigation with me from day one.”
* Those involved in the Baldia factory fire will be given exemplary punishment:
During the briefing on a JIT report on the Baldia Town factory inferno, the prime minister is reported to have expressed his displeasure over non-completion of challan and directed the IG to complete investigation as soon as possible.
* Baldia: losing focus:
Revelations from a joint interrogation report which surfaced last week allegedly linking 2012’s Baldia Town factory fire to an MQM worker — suggesting the building was deliberately set on fire due to non-payment of extortion money — have expectedly kicked up a storm.
But political point-scoring threatens to take the focus away from the 258 victims of the tragedy, pushing the narrative in another direction.
As the counsel for the victims pointed out on Friday, the statement of the suspect that has caused the uproar forms only one paragraph of the JIT report; the document filed with the Sindh High Court last week did not offer extensive details about the fire tragedy.
In fact, the suspect was picked up in connection with a separate case and made the comments about the fire in passing, and, in the words of the counsel, “based on hearsay”, as the individual was not a witness to the blaze, nor did he take responsibility for it.
It is also true that interrogation reports such as these are basically recorded statements of a suspect; no judgment is passed about their veracity — that is for investigators to establish. Moreover, the Baldia factory case currently pending with a trial court is a separate murder case.
But if it is true that the factory was set ablaze to punish the owners for not paying extortion money, then this horrific crime needs to be investigated and taken to its logical conclusion.
* ‘JIT report diminishes owners’ responsibility’:
Almost seven months back the death toll from the Baldia factory inferno rose to 260 as Nazia Ameera Bibi, one of the injured of the incident, quietly died in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s cardio ward.
But it was only recently that her name was taken at a press conference held by a labour rights organisation. Otherwise her name is still counted amongst the injured.
Her brothers Muhammad Zahid and Muhammad Shahnawaz, and brother-in-law Shahzad Ali also worked at the same factory and by what they described as “sheer luck” survived the incident.
Speaking to Dawn over the phone, her younger brother Zahid, 25, said Nazia and Shahzad Ali were both thrown out of the window after the fire engulfed the first floor. “I still remember everything clearly,” he began. “And every time I think about it, I feel suffocation and nausea.”
* PILER holds press conference on Baldia fire incident:
PILER and other labour-supporting organisations have been perusing the Baldia factory fire incident since it happened on September 11, 2012.
The recent news about Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) report about one of the accused, Muhammad Rizwan Qureshi, is in media has created some confusion and ambiguities regarding the case.
These news and comments on the JIT report has pushed to the background the main issue relating to lack of health and safety facilities at the industries, which was the main cause of a large number of deaths in Baldia factory fire incident and everybody is discussing the JIT report and involvement of an accused belonging to a political party.
We still consider the owners and management of the Ali Enterprises responsible for the incident and hope that the trial of the main case in the lower judiciary would be completed soon.
The honourable Sindh High Court has already ordered for completion of the case within one year.
We wish to put forward the following facts of this case to understand the situation.
It is important to clarify various aspects of the Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) Report of one, Muhammad Rizwan Qureshi, submitted by the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) in CP No. 3318 of 2012, which is a Petition dealing with the Baldia factory fire case.
* Baldia factory fire hearing adjourned due to absence of owners:
The additional district and sessions judge for district West adjourned the hearing of Baldia factory fire case on Saturday on the request of owners of the Ali Enterprises, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, who did not appear in court and requested to be exempted from the hearing.
Judge Noshaba Qazi, acting presiding officer of the trial court, allowed the pleas of owners and directed the Investigation Officer (IO) of the case to provide copies of all witness statements to the accused.
The attorneys for the accused requested the court to allow a month’s time to go through the statements of witnesses.
When asked by the court, the IO stated that there were 900 witnesses and it was not possible for him to provide all of the copies to the accused but Judge Qazi paid no heed to his excuses and asked him to ensure the provision of all documents as directed.
* ‘Delaying tactics’: Baldia fire witnesses rise to 950:
Three years on, the Baldia factory fire case has yet to reach the indictment phase as the police failed to record the statements of a dramatically increased number of witnesses.
Investigation officer (IO) SI Jahanzeb told a district and sessions court on Saturday that there were around 950 prosecution witnesses and most of their statements have yet to be recorded. At the time of the submission of the chargesheet, the police had submitted a list of only 301 witnesses. Under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the police must examine all the witnesses of a case.
Expressing her displeasure, additional district and sessions judge (West) Naushaba Kazi directed Jahanzeb to complete all due procedures by the next hearing on February 22 so that copies of the statements can be provided to the accused. Copies were supplied to the accused but the defence counsel complained that the documents were incomplete.
* Baldia factory fire case: JIT report still not filed in trial court:
The report of a joint investigation team submitted to the Sindh High Court by a Rangers official blaming the Muttahida Qaumi Movement for the horrifying Baldia Town factory fire was not brought on record during a sessions court hearing on Saturday.
The JIT report was submitted to the SHC on Feb 6. It quoted Rizwan Qureshi as disclosing that a deliberate arson attack had been carried out by the MQM on the factory over non-payment of protection money.
On Saturday, the case was fixed before Additional District and Sessions Judge (west) Naushaba Kazi for the supply of prosecution papers to the suspects as required under Section 265-C (supply of statements and documents to accused) of the criminal procedure code.
However, the investigating and prosecuting agencies as well as the complainant side did not bring the JIT report on record of the trial court even on Saturday.
The court came down heavily on the investigation officer (IO) of the case for failing to file statements of witnesses in the case.
* Culprits in factory fire to be taken to task: PM:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the people involved in the Baldia Town factory fire would be taken to task no matter which political party they are affiliated with.
Addressing a meeting of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors on Saturday, Mr Sharif said he had received the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on the matter and needed more information. He said the report “has caused a stir in Karachi, but we will not demoralise our institutions because of it”.
* Losing focus?: JIT report has pushed away the focus of Baldia case, PILER :
The organisations working to secure compensation for the families of the Baldia factory fire victims feel the joint investigation team (JIT) report shifts the focus of the case.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) executive director Karamat Ali said that the focus of their petition was to rally for proper emergency exits and safety equipment for factory workers. He felt that the JIT report, which places the blame of the fire on an activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, shifts the focus of their case.
Piler is a co-petitioner in the Sindh High Court petition on the Baldia factory fire along with the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Representatives of both these organisations were also present at Friday’s press conference.
* JIT report has only a paragraph on Baldia factory fire: victims’ counsel:
Counsel for the Baldia Town factory fire victims, Faisal Siddiqi, said on Friday that the much-hyped joint interrogation team’s (JIT) report was in fact about a case of possession of arms by the suspect Rizwan Qureshi.
The counsel said at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club organised by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) that the report contained the suspect’s confession to the crimes he had committed and only a paragraph on the factory fire.
“The suspect accused that a political party is responsible for burning down the factory. But his statement is based on hearsay. Not once did he mention either he was a witness to [the tragic incident] or took responsibility for the fire,” said Mr Siddiqi.
Executive director of Piler, Karamat Ali, said: “Three inquiries were conducted in the factory fire case. The first by a committee of police officers, the second by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the third was a judicial inquiry by a judge of SHC. All three looked into and rejected the extortion [being the prime reason behind the fire]. But the cause that came up time and again was the lack of precautionary measures at the factory.”
For instance, he said, it did not change facts on the ground that the factory’s doors were locked from outside which the management was found guilty of as it feared theft of merchandise.
* JI terms Baldia factory fire ‘blackest incident’:
The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) has termed the Baldia Town factory fire ‘the blackest incident in the history of the country’.
Addressing a press conference along with the affected families of Baldia Town incident at Idara-e-Noor Haq on Friday, JI city chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman opined that peace in Karachi could not be restored unless the government and national security institutions took decisive action against “the terrorist activities of the MQM”.
read more. & read more.
* Workers demand punishment to Balida factory culprits:
Bereaved families of Ali Enterprises fire victims have demanded not to play political blame game on the dead bodies of their loved ones, but give a severe punishment to the cruel culprits, irrespective of who they are.
Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPB) here Thursday, leaders of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association along with some victims’ families said the Balida factory fire tragedy has once again captured the attention of whole country after filing of a probe report about the tragedy in Sindh High Court (SHC).
However, different political, religious and ethnic parties and outfits are busy in disgracing the blood of the martyrs to achieve their vested interests.
They said they want to present the point of view of the heirs and the real representatives of workers regarding this new development.
They said after 29 months of this tragedy a report has been filed in Sindh High Court (SHC) in which the identity of the involved culprits and their group is revealed.
However, on the basis of this report different political parties are busy in blaming one another, but no political party has taken solid steps for solving the problems of the bereaved families and deterring repetition of such incidents in Pakistani factories and industries.
This negative attitude of these political parties is also condemnable because during last two and half years they have not raised the voice inside or outside parliament for solving the problems of the affectees.
Today also they are doing nothing for the affectees but issuing fiery statements to settle score with their political rivals, which prove beyond doubt that all these
parties are anti-worker in their character.
They said the court would decide if the fire was accidental or arson, but our demand is to give severe punishment to the culprits and their patrons.
We also apprehend that making the JIT report a plea, the vested interests would try to save the real culprits including the factory owners, International Brands and Social auditing company of this sad incident and if so we would fully resist such a bid.
They said it is the basic question if the factory was burnt in accidental fire or arson, but it is also important to see if the factory had all precautionary arrangement to cope with such an incident and save the lives of its innocent workers.
So far all reports and facts show that this factory was not registered under the Factory Act, and thus was working illegally.
All its emergency exit gates were closed, and windows covered with heavy iron grills. Its passageways were closed with goods, which resulted in the martyrdom of 80% workers.
Therefore, the affectees and the labor movement think that those running this factory illegally were equally responsible for these deaths as they ignored the local and international health and safety laws and standards.
These culprits include the owners of the factory, international brands for which they worked, international company that gave them audit certificate and other institutions related to the labor affairs.
More than 90% of the factory workers were contract laborers, not registered with EOBI and other social security institutions.
They used to work 12 to 14 hours daily in this sweat shop under third party contact system “Thakedari”.
20150213 * Call to probe Baldia factory fire by judicial commission:
The families of the Baldia town factory victims have called for the constitution of a judicial commission to investigate 2012’s fire incident.
They called for severe punishment to the culprits and for the payment of compensation to the affected families.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, the leaders of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association along with some victims’ families, lamented that different parties and groups are “disgracing the blood of the martyrs for their vested interests”.
NTUF Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor, President Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association Muhammad Jabbir, among others, addressed the press conference.
* Baldia factory fire: Victims’ families demand new judicial commission:
Families of the 259 people who died in the Baldia factory fire of 2012 have demanded that a new judicial commission be set up with sitting judges from the Supreme Court of Pakistan to probe the incident and submit a report within 90 days.
They also demanded that the report compiled by the Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi should be made public.
Upset over the blame game that started after a report of the joint investigation team was placed before the Sindh High Court, the families claimed that their loved ones’ deaths were being ‘politicised’.
“Thirty months later, these politicians do not talk about the affectees demands in the parliament,” said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general-secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan at a press conference with the victims’ families at Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
“Now, they want to be wellwishers. Their behaviour is condemnable.”
* Call to stop Baldia fire report from being used for political point-scoring:
The families of the Baldia factory fire victims might end up being victimised with their cases disposed of, as the recently released joint investigation team report is being used for political point-scoring rather than helping the cause of the victims, apprehended the National Trade Union of Federation on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said the Baldia factory fire death toll climbed to 260 after another woman wounded in the incident, Nadia, recently succumbed to her injuries.
“The revelations of the JIT have raised a lot of questions — about its authenticity and its sudden appearance in the national and local media — making it seem like a political ploy rather than helping the cause of the Baldia fire victims,” said Mr Mansoor.
He said that if undue importance was given to the JIT, which did not have teeth legally, it would help the owners, the social audit company, RINA, and the German retail company, KIK.
“It will be helpful to them as it will exonerate them criminal negligence which is a major cause of the incident. It will be declared an act of terrorism, and we all know how speedily the cases related to terrorism are solved,” he added.
* JIT report on Baldia factory fire: JI demands ban on MQM, case in military court:
One of the opposition parties in Punjab Assembly, Jamaat-e-Islami, has demanded the federal government open a case against the MQM in a military court and impose a ban on the Karachi-based party in light of the Baldia Town factory fire report of a joint investigation team.
The demand was put by the JIP’s only member in the House Dr Waseem Akhtar on a point of order at the beginning of the Thursday session held under the chair of Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani started one hour and 10 minutes late to its scheduled time at 10am.
Soon after the Talawat and Naat, Dr Waseem (who belongs to Bahawalpur district) stood on his bench and said on a point of order that his city Bahawalpur has received two deadbodies of labourers who were killed in Baldia Town Karachi fire incident in which about 279 people were burnt alive.
* Civil society for action on Baldia factory report:
Civil society organisations (CSOs) unanimously demanded on Thursday that the culprits of Baldia Town factory fire be brought to the court of law as soon as possible in order to build the confidence of millions of workers.
They also urged the Punjab government to implement labour laws to address labourers’ issues.
At a provincial dialogue titled “Labour issues, bonded labour and role of labour courts in justice provision” organised by the Citizen Commission for Human Development, they decided to constitute a forum consisting of government officials, CSOs and trade union representatives so as to influence the labour department to create workers’ friendly environment at workplaces.
“CSOs should also try to ensure passing on 100 per cent social security benefits to brick kiln workers,” Bonded Labour Liberation Front Secretary-General Syed Ghulam Fatima said on the occasion.
She also demanded that those involved in the Baldia Town tragedy be sent behind the bars.
Aima Mahmood, executive director of the Working Women Organisation, said there were still many issues regarding equal wages for women workers and that the labour department should ensure equality between men and women workers.
She also stressed the participants to launch a campaign to bring about a change in the attitude of employers towards married women, as many employers did not hire married women workers.
* There can be no apology on Baldia Town tragedy: Imran:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan gave his first response following Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s apology.
Attending the training session of the first female elite force in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI chief said Altaf Hussain’s apology was a fine but there could be no apology on the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy.
Imran Khan said that immediate action should be taken over the JIT report of the factory fire which claimed the lives of over 250 people in Baldia Town. “
Our demand is that the federal and provincial governments act on the findings of the JIT report on an immediate basis.”
* KP minister wants Baldia fire case referred to military court:
Announcing to stage protest against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) today, Provincial Minister Ziaullah Afridi and Adviser to Chief Minister on Environment Ishtiaq Urmar on Tuesday asked the federal government to refer the Baldia Town arson case to a military court.
Speaking at a press conference here, Ziaullah Afridi and Ishtiaq Urmar said that the MQM was a terrorist organisation and killed innocent labourers for not paying ransom by the owner of the factory.
They said businessmen were shifting abroad due to lawlessness, target killing, kidnapping for ransom and hooliganism of the supporters of the MQM.
The KP government representatives said the party had taken the economic hub of the country and its residents hostage.
* Out for blood: Siraj demands punishment for Baldia fire culprits:
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Sirajul Haq said the 21st Amendment would lose its impact if the federal government failed to punish the culprits held responsible by a joint investigation team (JIT) for Karachi’s Baldia factory fire.
The tragic fire in a garment factory of the port city killed over 250 people and left scores of others injured in 2012. Some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition and DNA tests had to be conducted to determine their identities. A number of them remain unidentified.
Talking to the media during Guest Hour at Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, the JI chief urged the government to withstand all pressure and not allow the report to go into ‘cold storage’.
He said the report would test the federal government’s ability to respond to such crucial findings, adding lack of action would render the 21st Constitutional Amendment ineffective.
* Baldia factory fire case: SHC wants JIT report placed before ‘competent forum’:
The Sindh High Court ruled on Tuesday that the veracity and relevance of a report prepared by a joint investigation team was to be determined by the competent forum before which it be placed, and told the trial court to decide the Baldia Town factory inferno case within a year.
While disposing of a miscellaneous application of the owners of the burnt factory seeking incorporation of the word “preferably” before the one-year time frame set by the SHC on Feb 6 for the trial court to decide the case, a division bench of the SHC headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar observed that its direction regarding expeditious disposal of the case would not take away the right of the applicants to fair trial.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research with some other non-governmental organisations had filed petitions for the replacement of the present investigating officer and conclusion of the trial in the factory fire case as early as possible.
On Feb 6, a JIT report was submitted to the SHC by an additional attorney general with a statement of the deputy assistant judge and advocate general of the Rangers, which revealed that an accused, Rizwan Qureshi, had disclosed that a deliberate arson attack was carried out by a faction of a political party on the factory over non-payment of protection money.
* Baldia factory fire trial within a year: SHC:
Sindh High Court on Tuesday ordered for the Baldia factory fire trail to be completed within 1 year.
The factory owner had put forward an appeal for the trial to be completed before one year, however his request was turned down by the judges.
Judges further observed that it was up to the trial court to scrutinise the JIT report. The factory owner had also requested to become a respondent in the case following the release of the release of the JIT report.
Reports have also disclosed that there is a case of illegal arms against the suspect Rizwan Qureshi who had disclosed alleged involvement of the MQM in the incident during interrogation.
to read .
* Baldia factory fire: JIT report not entirely based on the case, says lawyer:
The Sindh High Court clarified on Tuesday that determining the accuracy and relevance of the joint investigation team’s report – which held the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) responsible for the Baldia factory fire of 2012 where 259 workers were burned to death – shall be determined by a competent forum.
This was observed by the division bench, headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, after the lawyer presenting the Pakistan institute of Labour Education and Research and Fisherfolk Forum Pakistan, Faisal Siddiqui sought a clarification regarding the relevance of the JIT report to the Baldia factory fire trial.
The JIT report presented on February 6, is not entirely based on the fire incident specifically – the suspect quoted in the report was arrested for possessing illegal arms. During interrogation, he disclosed that he had information about who had started the fire at Ali Enterprises and why.
As per Siddiqui’s request, the judges had previously issued notices to the heads of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to file their reports, if any, regarding the investigation into the factory fire.
* Baldia Town case must go to military courts: Khursheed:
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Monday said there was no bigger case than the Baldia Town factory fire, which needed to be sent to the military court.
He advised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to disown those criminals who were named in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in the Baldia Town factory incident as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had disowned the Al-Zulfiqar in the past.
* SHC orders Baldia factory fire trial to be completed within one year:
Sindh High Court on Tuesday ordered for the Baldia factory fire trail to be completed within one year.
The factory owner had put forward an appeal for the trial to be completed before one year, however his request was turned down by the judges. Judges further observed that it was up to the trial court to scrutinise the JIT report.
The factory owner had also requested to become a respondent in the case following the release of the release of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.
Reports have also disclosed that there is a case of illegal arms against the suspect Rizwan Qureshi who had disclosed alleged involvement of the MQM in the incident during interrogation.
20150210 * Political circus:
The Baldia factory fire in which 258 labourers lost their lives in 2012 is a case that has taken on another shocking dimension.
A report released by the Rangers Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to the Sindh High Court has alleged that the factory was set on fire on purpose by MQM workers because the owner of the factory refused to pay bhatta (extortion) money to the party.
These are the kind of charges that can cause immense damage to Altaf Hussain’s party; the intentional murder of 258 people by a mainstream political party is not something that can easily be swallowed, even by the most hardened of nations.
The MQM has, expectedly, denied these claims going as far as to say that the accused ‘worker’ who has been named in the report is not actually an MQM worker and that he should be hanged in public if found to be behind the atrocity.
So, not only is the MQM distancing itself from these flammable accusations, it is also disowning the main culprit.
* Heirs of Baldia factory fire victims to sue German retailer:
Last year, Muhammad Ali finally bought a small house in the congested Muslim Mujahid Colony where his family resided for a year as tenants.
When the day final payment was made, he sobbed.
To this day he cries while talking about it, perhaps because it was a parting gift from his son who had died in the Baldia factory over two years ago.
Now, the families of those who died, have decided in principle to sue the German retailer who sourced products from the ill-fated factory.
Like any other household in this part of Karachi’s Baldia Town, located on the fringes of Site Industrial Estate; men receive minimum wages for doing odd jobs in factories, as machine attendants in day time and driving taxis after sunset.
With this never-ending struggle to put food on the dastarkhwaan, owning a small bare-bricked house remained a luxury, especially when most of the household income is spent on medicines for old parents.
Hence, those living on rented premises often miss out on their payments. And when that happens, the landlord harasses them. Ali’s case was no different.
Pakistan’s National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor said the amount converted into between Rs450,000 and Rs500,000 per household.
“But that was just an interim compensation. When the agreement was signed the company had promised a bigger package.”
By its own account KiK was the single largest purchaser from Ali Enterprise, buying 75% of the garments manufactured in Karachi – a fact that has raised lawyers’ hopes.
KiK was also one of the many international retailers doing business with factories housed in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building, which collapsed in April 2013, killing over 1,000 workers.
But in that case, involvement of multiple discount stores based in different countries has made legal proceedings difficult.
There is another side of the equation. In countries like Pakistan where textile remains the backbone of the economy, employing the largest chunk of workforce and a reduction in fresh orders can have far-reaching consequences.
read more. & read more and see video.
* Baldia factory fire: PTI, MQM in a war of words:
Amid an escalating war of words between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), leaders of the two rival parties unleashed a fresh barrage of accusations against each other on Monday.
PTI chairman Imran Khan used the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report into the 2012 deadly blaze at a garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town to launch a frontal attack on the MQM. He called upon the government to set aside political expediencies and take action against the party.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should shun political expediencies and take action against the MQM,” Imran said while speaking at a news conference at his residence in Bani Gala on the edge of Islamabad.
* Inappropriate of MQM to question JIT’s credibility, says Sharjeel Memon:
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon on Monday said that the criticism on Baldia factory fire’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report was not appropriate.
Speaking to reporters outside the Sindh Assembly building, Memon said: “JIT has joint representatives of several institutions such as police, Rangers, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) to carry out investigations…to reject it or to say the findings are wrong is not appropriate.”
Earlier on Sunday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain had criticised the Rangers’ JIT report on the Baldia factory fire. The report had blamed MQM for the deadly incident on the basis of a suspect’s confessional statement.
read more. & read more.
* Call for action against Karachi factory fire accused:
The killing of 258 workers in a garments factory fire in Baldia Town Karachi in an alleged terrorism act has been highlighted by an independent inquiry after one year of the tragic incident.
The accused of the killings should be tried under Anti-Terrorism Act and given exemplary punishment for their crime against innocent workers with the greed of Bhutta (extortion). This statement was issued by trade union leader Khurshid Ahmad, general-secretary of All Pakistan Workers Confederation on Sunday. He declared that the investigation highlighted how innocent workers were burnt to death while the government machinery remained ignorant for more than a year.
* MQM demands public hanging of man involved in Baldia factory fire:
*Haider Abbas says JIT report on tragedy baseless and a conspiracy against MQM
* Sattar says report will be challenged in court
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders on Sunday dismissed the report by a Joint Investigation team on Badia Town factory fire , terming it ‘factious’ and ‘biased’.
Addressing a press conference held at the MQM headquarters Nine-Zero, Haider Abbas Rizvi said the JIT report was not based on facts but was compiled on rumours.
He termed it a pack of lies. “It is written in the report that I heard from this person and that person,” he claimed. Rizvi, who was flanked by Dr Farooq Sattar, Faisal Sabzwari, Dr Khalid Mqbool Siddiqui and Rauf Siddiqui, said the judicial commission comprised of Justice (retd) Qurban Alvi prepared a fake probe report over the Baldia Town tragedy.
He said MQM condemns what he termed a sham conspiracy against the party, adding that this was not the first time that a fake JIT formed against MQM chief Altaf Hussain and the workers.
* Altaf wants UN or Scotland Yard to probe:
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief, Altaf Hussain, has raised the question of why the JIT report on Ziaul Haq’s plane crash and the incident of Ojhri Camp had never surfaced.
He demanded that an investigation into the Baldia Town factory fire be conducted by Scotland Yard or the United Nations. He added that the Legal Aid Committee should file a case against the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
* Baldia factory inferno: Altaf calls for foreign probe as party dismisses JIT report:
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has called the joint interrogation team (JIT) report, submitted by the Rangers to the Sindh High Court over the Baldia factory fire, as propaganda against the party and decided to challenge it in court.
In September 2012, at least 259 people were burnt alive in the inferno at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town, Karachi. At first, the incident was reported an electricity mishap. But three years later, it is said to be a terrorist activity, with the JIT report alleging MQM men’s hand in it.
read more. & read more. & read more.
*Govt afraid of factory fire culprits: Siraj:
The “government is afraid of those involved in the Baldia Town incident that is why the political party involved is not being named”, said Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq.
He said the joint investigation team probing the Baldia Town fire has held a political party responsible for the incident. He said no political party could kill so many people.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Sirajul Haq also demanded of the government to reveal the inside story of the Baldia own incident and announce compensation for the families of victims.
* Ebad for bringing culprits of Baldia factory fire to justice:
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad on Saturday said the culprits of Baldia Town factory inferno should be brought to justice at all cost.
The governor said it was inevitable to bring the culprits of Baldia Town factory fire to justice however the case was sub judice so one should avoid discussing it.
The Baldia Town factory fire case took a dramatic turn on Friday when a joint investigating team report submitted in the Sindh High Court (SHC) claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was involved in the incident.
The report quoted a man named Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged activist of MQM, as the source of information pointing towards the party, which held 80 percent mandate of the metropolis.
The report stated that Rangers had arrested a prime suspect who confessed to setting the factory on fire intentionally along with a group of miscreants.
* The truth of the fire:
The 2012 Baldia Town garment factory fire, in which 289 people burnt to death – combined with smoke inhalation, suffocation and a stampede – remains one of the largest such tragedies in our history.
Nearly three years on its culprits also remain on the loose.
A judicial report into the fire blamed it on a short circuit and the fire department, which arrived more than an hour after the fire broke out, was not held accountable.
The owner of the factory and regulatory authorities were faulted for the building not having fire exits and there were reports that all the doors of the factory were locked from the outside but the owner, despite being on the Exit Control List, was allowed to flee the country.
Now, a report submitted to the Sindh High Court by the Rangers includes a bombshell accusation that the MQM was behind the fire because it did not get extortion money from the factory owner.
This report is based only on the statement of a single suspect so it does not necessarily have to be taken as gospel truth.
But it is further confirmation that even after all this time we do not have the sordid details of how so many lives were lost on September 11, 2012.
* Baldia factory fire: Families claim they knew who was involved since day one:
Families of the victims who lost their lives in the Baldia factory fire claim that they knew the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was involved before a report produced in the Sindh High Court (SHC) became public knowledge.
Relatives said that they were aware of how and why it had happened but decided to remain silent. “We knew since day one that it was about extortion,” said Owais*, father of Muhammad Jahanzaib, a machine operator who was one of the 259 people burned alive in the fire at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012. “The culprits should be punished.”
Shoaib* lost his wife in the fire and has been bringing up their two daughters alone. “Many of those who died belonged to Urdu-speaking families and were affiliated with the party,” he said. “If the charges against the MQM are true, then the party should be banned.”
Trade unionist Nasir Mansoor said that if the report was correct, then culprits associated with the party should be punished.
“The owners are also responsible as people died due to lack of safety measures.” He added that the factory had no emergency exists and the gates to the factory were closed at the time of the incident.
Mansoor claimed that it looked like the owners wanted to free themselves from any blame.
* Baldia factory fire: Govt asked to take action after JIT report:
Political parties have called upon the government to take the Baldia factory fire as a test case if it wanted to eliminate terrorism as they blamed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for the deadly blaze.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded that MQM chief Altaf Hussain be tried for the deaths of more than 250 factory workers. The government must seek the return of the exiled leader so that he can be tried for the deaths of poor factory workers, who “fell victim to MQM’s extortionist agenda and paid for it with their lives”, said PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari in a statement.
On Friday, Rangers submitted before the Sindh High Court a joint investigation team’s (JIT) report, which claimed that the MQM was behind the fire that claimed lives of at least 258 factory workers in Baldia Town area of Karachi.
read more.& read more.
* MQM chief wants foreign investigation into Baldia factory fire:
A day after a joint investigation team (JIT) report into the Baldia factory fire incident accused a man claiming to be a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker, the party’s chief Altaf Hussain said that MQM cannot be blamed for an individual’s alleged act and called for foreign investigation into the incident.
Addressing workers and supporters via telephone at the foundation laying ceremony for Altaf Hussain University in Hyderabad, the party chief lamented the timing for publicizing the JIT report.
“Why wasn’t the JIT report released earlier?” Hussain asked.
“A party has hundreds of thousands of workers. If one man claiming to be a member commits a crime, it is his individual act. It is illegal, immoral to blame the political party.”
* MQM for public hanging of Baldia Town fire culprit:
The Rabita Committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Saturday said it had no links with Rizwan Qureshi – the accused in the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy.
In a press statement, Rabita Committee emphasised that the MQM had zero-tolerance for extortionists and other criminals.
The statement called for public hanging of the man allegedly involved in Baldia Town factory fire.
The party also appealed to the media to stop referring to Rizwan Qureshi as a member of the MQM.
The report of the joint investigation team (JIT), pertaining to the fire, was submitted in the Sindh High Court along with the statement of a Rangers official according to which the information was disclosed by an alleged MQM worker Rizwan Qureshi.
Meanwhile, talking to Geo News on Saturday, MQM leader Babar Ghauri has said that the media trial of the MQM has been started.
* MQM disowns ‘worker’ who blamed it for factory fire:
Declaring that the man alleged to have set a Baldia Town factory on fire was not associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the party’s coordination committee has demanded that the government should hang the person at the local roundabout in accordance with the law and Constitution.
A report submitted by a Rangers official in the Sindh High Court said that MQM was behind the fire incident that claimed the lives of at least 258 factory workers. The report was based on the information collected from an alleged MQM worker, Rizwan Qureshi.
The MQM committee said in a statement that the suspect, Rizwan Qureshi, was not its worker and the party had nothing to do with him. “The MQM has zero tolerance for terrorists, extortionists and criminal elements,” it said.
* ‘289 people were killed for not getting Rs200m extortion’:
The Baldia Town factory fire case took a new turn on Friday when a terror suspect from a political party disclosed before the seven-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that Ali Enterprise garment factory was set on fire by members of a political party on refusal to pay Rs200 million as extortion money by the factory owners in September 2012.
Rangers have presented the JIT report before the Sindh High Court (SHC).
The JIT report of terror suspect Rizwan Qureshi, who is stated to be associated with the political party, was submitted before the SHC, which ordered heads of Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and the Rangers to submit their investigation reports, if any, conducted with regard to the Baldia fire incident that claimed the lives of 289 persons on September 11, 2012.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and others had filed petitions in the Sindh High Court for the constitution of a judicial commission, which might fix the responsibility on persons responsible for the Baldia Town fire incident at the Ali Enterprise factory that claimed the lives of as many as 289 persons on September 11, 2012 and suggest monetary compensation to the legal heirs of inferno victims.
The Nazir of the court informed that all the 672 legal heirs of deceased victims had received cheques of death grant while 128 cheques were yet to be delivered.
On the plea regarding the transfer of investigation officer, SHC’s division bench, headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, observed that DIG Sultan Khawaja was presently supervising the conduct of cases by the investigation officer and directed the trial court to proceed the matter expeditiously so that the trial may be concluded within a year. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till next week.
* Baldia factory door was shut from outside: Rauf Siddiqi:
Former provincial minister Rauf Siddiqi says that exit door had been shut from the outside when the Baldia Town factory burnt down in 2012, claiming the lives of over 250 employees.
According to a Joint Investigation Report (JIT), the factory fire – dubbed the worst fire incident in Pakistan’s history – was the result of the owners not paying extortion demanded by a certain political faction.
Then-provincial minister Siddiqi says that there was no negligence on the part of any institution or department in the incident.
Speaking to Geo News on Saturday, he said that he had reached the location as soon as he heard news of the fire.
“I got the FIR of the incident registered with the police and ordered immediate investigation,” he said.
“The doors of the factory were shut from the outside,” he added.
* MQM disowns Baldia factory arson accused:
The Rabitta Committee of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) on Saturday said it had no links with Rizwan Qureshi – the accused in the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy.
The statement of the Rabitta Committee emphasised the MQM had zero-tolerance for extortionists and other criminals. The party also appealed to the media to stop referring to Rizwan Qureshi as a member of the MQM.
On Friday, the report of the joint investigation team (JIT) pertaining to the fire was submitted in the Sindh High Court along with the statement of a Rangers official according to which the information was disclosed by an alleged MQM worker Rizwan Qureshi.
* Baldia factory fire accused not affiliated with MQM: Rabitta Committee:
The Rabitta Committee of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) on Saturday said it had no links with Rizwan Qureshi – the accused in the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy.
The statement of the Rabitta Committee emphasised the MQM had zero-tolerance for extortionists and other criminals. The party also appealed to the media to stop referring to Rizwan Qureshi as a member of the MQM.
On Friday, the report of the joint investigation team (JIT) pertaining to the fire was submitted in the Sindh High Court along with the statement of a Rangers official according to which the information was disclosed by an alleged MQM worker Rizwan Qureshi.
* Baldia inferno: JIT accuses political party of starting fire:
The Rangers have placed the blame of the Baldia factory fire on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in a report submitted to the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday.
They claimed that some members of the party were linked to the deadly fire which left more than 259 men and women dead on September 11, 2012.
In the report submitted to a division bench of the SHC hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the incident, law enforcers claimed that they had arrested a man in connection to the industrial fire and during the interrogation he had identified himself as an MQM worker.
When contacted, MQM leaders and office-bearers were unavailable for comments. On January 13, while hearing the petitions filed by the Pakistan Industrial Labour Education Research, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and others, the bench ordered DIG Sultan Khwaja to submit a report of the investigations.
The bench also issued notices to the heads of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to submit their report on the incident.
* Rangers’ report blames MQM for Baldia factory fire:
The Baldia Town factory inferno case took a dramatic turn on Friday when a report by Rangers claimed that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was behind the deadly fire that claimed the lives of at least 258 factory workers.
The report prepared by a joint investigation team (JIT) was submitted to the Sindh High Court by an additional attorney general, along with a statement of the deputy assistant judge advocate general of Rangers, Major Ashfaque Ahmed.
The statement said the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.
According to the JIT report, the MQM worker revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million as Bhatta (extortion money) though his frontman from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.
* Group of miscreants set fire to Baldia Town factory: report :
The Baldia factory fire which consumed over 250 lives was a result of the owners not paying extortion demanded by a certain political faction, according to the Joint Investigation Report (JIT).
The report submitted by Sindh Rangers on Friday during the hearing of the Baldia Town factory fire case revealed, that the fire was intentionally caused by miscreants.
According to the report, the Rangers recently arrested a prime suspect who confessed to setting the factory on fire along with a group of miscreants intentionally.
* Members of political party behind Baldia factory fire, Rangers tell SHC :
Rangers on Friday afternoon submitted a report to the Sindh High Court (SHC) on the Baldia factory fire, revealing that the inferno – which killed over 250 people in 2012 – was deliberate and members of a political party were behind it, Express News reported.
Fire in Ali Enterprises – a garment factory in Baldia Town – burnt 259 people alive on September 11, 2012.
A two-member SHC bench, headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqir, took up the case today. The Rangers report submitted to the bench stated that a member of the accused political party admitted to setting the factory on fire along with his accomplices. The suspect was arrested by Rangers as part of the investigation into the inferno.
Rangers have asked SHC to keep the findings of the report secret due to the involvement of politicians in the attack.
During the hearing, the court ordered the concerned authorities to distribute cheques among the victims who haven’t been given any financial support. It also asked the authorities to submit a report in one week time.
* SHC seeks Baldia factory fire probe reports:
The Sindh High Court directed the additional prosecutor general on Tuesday to submit within a week reports of the investigation conducted into the massive fire at a factory in Baldia Town in 2012.
The orders came on an application filed by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research seeking the transfer of the case’s investigation officer and an expeditious trial.
Piler and others had filed a petition for the formation of a judicial commission that would fix the responsibility on those responsible of the tragedy at the Ali Enterprise factory wherein 289 people had lost their lives. The petitioners also want the commission to suggest the amount of compensation money for the heirs of the victims.
Their counsel, Faisal Siddiqui, submitted in the application that the investigation officer, Jehanzaib Khan, was conducting himself impartially and delaying the proceedings of the trial.
He alleged that the officer was benefiting the accused and despite a lapse of two years had not even framed charges against them.
He asked the court to direct the home department and the IGP to appoint a senior police officer to investigate the case and direct the trial court to conclude the proceeding within six months.
In an identical matter, the court gave three weeks’ time to the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the labour department, the health secretary, the industries ministry and others to submit reports on the fire safety measures taken at public and private buildings.
The petitioner, Raah-e-Raast Trust chairman Agha Syed Attaullah Shah, had submitted that the civic agencies were guilty of criminal negligence for not ensuring fire safety steps at the city’s buildings.
* SHC asks spy agencies to submit reports on Baldia factory fire:
he Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Tuesday the chiefs of various intelligence agencies to submit reports, if any, on the Baldia factory fire that killed 259 workers in September 2012.
The Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and the paramilitary force have been asked to submit their reports within two weeks.
These directions came after the additional attorney general informed the judges that these agencies have failed to provide any investigation report in response to the letters he wrote to them.
The bench was hearing identical petitions seeking a judicial inquiry into the causes of the worst industrial disaster in the country’s history, action against the owners of Ali Enterprises factory and prompt payment of compensation to the victims’ families.
During Tuesday’s proceedings, assistant prosecutor general Muntazir Mehdi said that DIG Sultan Khawaja is currently supervising the investigation, in pursuance of the court order passed earlier.
The investigation reports have been compiled and will be filed within a week, he informed, requesting the court allow more time. The two-judge bench gave him one week.
An SHC official submitted a report that 400 of the 1,200 legal heirs have already been given their compensation cheques. The cheques for the remaining 800 heirs will be delivered within 15 days, he assured. Disposing of the Nazir’s report, the bench ordered him to submit a detailed report containing the names of the legal heirs after they receive the cheques.
The additional director of the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution, Arshad Iqbal Rajput, said that the legal heirs of 214 deceased have been paid compensation. He produced a list, showing cases of 15 persons are being processed, while eight claims have been rejected. The matter of payment to 13 claimants, who are underage, is also pending so far, he added.