Three years on, heirs of Baldia factory fire victims still living in despair
The horrific blaze had erupted at a garment factory Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town which at least 258 people –mostly labourers – burnt alive on September 11, 2012.
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.
A startling revelation came to light earlier this year when a joint investigation team report claimed that factory blaze was an act of ‘foul play’, instead of an incident, after its owner refused to pay a certain extortion amount demanded by influential political leaders.
The report said a top leader of a political party had sought Rs 200 million from the Baldia factory owner. All the claims were allegedly made by one Rizwan Qureshi who was arrested by law enforcement agencies in connection of the blaze tragedy.
It was alleged that a chemical was spilled in the factory with a purpose to set it on fire – in reaction against non-payment of extortion.
However, it was ironic that the man who made all shocking confessions disappeared so quickly after getting bail from the court. He didn’t come to light again.
Subsequently, a number of arrests were made by the law enforcers in connection to the fire incident
The criminal named Shakeel was arrested on March 25, 2015 with four of his accomplices from the precincts of Preedy Police Station and he revealed before the investigators that he and his aides set the garment factory on fire.
Shakeel said he and his accomplices went with some combustible chemical drum to the factory and some of his accomplices went inside to fuel the fire after overpowering security guards stationed there.
Sindh government had also formed a new JIT comprising senior police officials and intelligence agencies personnel on March 16, 2015 to probe the factory inferno. But its findings are yet to be made public.