Baldia factory fire case: Two witnesses testify in ATC


KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi, while conducting a trial in the 2012 Baldia factory fire case on Wednesday, questioned two witnesses and deposed against Zubair alias Chariya – one of the accused in the case.

Nine suspects, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, Abdul Rehman and Zubair, were charged with setting aflame a garments factory in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.

The two witnesses appeared before the ATC judge and testified under oath that they used to work under the main accused Zubair in the aforementioned factory. They further deposed that on the day of the incident, they went outside for a while. When they came back, the factory was kindling.

The witnesses asserted that “they saved as many workers as they could”.

“Zubair was smoking and smiling along with two or three other men in the canteen as others struggled to save themselves,” they said.

“The workers, upon seeing him smiling, became angry and tried to catch him but he managed to flee the scene,” the court was told.

Following the deposition, Zubair’s counsel cross-examined the witnesses.

The factory was reportedly set on fire when its owners refused to pay extortion to a big political party of Karachi.

According to an earlier Rangers report, citing confession of suspected target killer Rizwan Qureshi, the factory fire was organised crime. A top leader of a political party had sought Rs 200 million from the Baldia factory owner. When the owners approached the political leader, he feigned ignorance.

The report said that altercation between the factory owners and a political leader also erupted. The political bigwig was subsequently also relieved of his responsibilities in the party, added the report.

It is said in a report that chemical was spilled in a factory with a purpose to set it on fire – in reaction against non-payment of extortion. The main accused, who is under the custody of Rangers, made big revelations. He alleged that a ‘front man’ obtained Rs 150 million from factory owners to ‘wind up’ the case. The blaze in Ali Enterprises – a garment factory in Baldia Town – burnt at least 258 people alive.