Karachi Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) has delayed its verdict in the high-profile Baldia factory fire case till September 22.
The incident that still terrifies hit headlines eight years ago when more than 260 workers were burnt alive when the multi-storey garment factory was set on fire in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.
Ten accused — then-provincial minister for commerce and industries Rauf Siddiqui, MQM’s then Badia Town sector in-charge Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, Zubair alias Charya, Hyderabad-based businessmen Dr Abdul Sattar Khan, Umar Hasan Qadri, Iqbal Adeeb Khanum and the ill-fated industrial unit’s four gatekeepers — Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad — have been charged with setting ablaze the factory.
The judge of the ATC, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, is expected to conclude the trial and announce his verdict in the matter since the recording of evidence and testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, statements of the accused persons and final arguments from the special pubic prosecutor and defence counsel for the accused has almost been completed.
The court was given testimonies of 400 witnesses against the accused but around 369 witnesses were rested for being unnecessary. The accused have denied the allegations leveled by the prosecution.
Factory owner Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, a general manager, and four gatekeepers were initially charged for alleged negligence in the inferno.
A fire broke out in a denim factory near Hub River Road in the Baldia area of Karachi on September 11, 2012, killing 260 workers and injuring about 50 others.
The JIT report, made in June 2015, two and a half years after the incident, came to light five years later.
The report recommended that the FIR was filed based on” dishonesty” due to the internal and external pressure which turned the act of “terrorism” into a normal fire incident. Therefore, the FIR filed earlier should be returned and a new FIR should be registered.
It was recommended to include names of Rehman Bhola, Hamad Siddiqui, Zubair Charia, four unidentified accomplices, Umar Hassan Qadri, Dr. Abdul Sattar, Ali Hassan Qadri, and Iqbal Adib Khanum in the new FIR.