Baldia factory fire was a ‘planned conspiracy’ and case of extortion, reveals JIT report

KARACHI: “The blaze that had erupted in Ali Enterprises a clothes factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town was no accident, it was rather a conspiracy. Some officer-bearers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had demanded Rs 200 million extortion from factory owners,” revealed the joint investigation team (JIT) report on Monday.

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Nearly 250 people burnt to death after a horrific blaze erupted in the factory in September, 2012. The government formed a JIT to thoroughly investigate the matter, which has made startling revelations.

“The fire that engulfed had the factory was an outcome of a pre-planned scheme and that it was no accident,” revealed the JIT report. “The factory was set ablaze over non-payment of bhatta – protection money.”

Sources said the JIT report stated that MQM sector in-charge Rehman alias Bhola and Karachi Tanzeemi Committee (KTC) in-charge Hammad Siddiqui had demanded Rs 200 million extortion from owners of the factory.

The JIT further said the incident was termed an ‘accident’ in the FIR due to internal and external pressure and a blind eye was turned to the possibility of extortion-demanding.

The team recommended lodging an FIR against Rehman Bhola, Hammad Siddiqui, Zubair alias Charya and four others including a woman.

It also urged to issue red warrants for the arrest of suspects who have fled out of country, cancel their passports and to place their names on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Moreover, the JIT recommended to handover two bungalows purchased with the extortion money to the owners of the ill-fated factory.

On the other hand, the party (MQM) has always denied the allegations as baseless.

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