SHC says big fish being protected in Baldia fire tragedy case


ISLAMABAD, AUG 09 (DNA) – The Sindh High Court has raised several questions over the prosecution during the hearing of Baldia Factory fire tragedy case saying it seems the big fish are being protected in this case.

The court inquired of the Rangers prosecution had they appealed the acquittal of ex-MPA and MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui. When the prosecution replied in negative, the high court judge, Justice Karim Khan Agha remarked that the prosecution should take action against him.

The Sindh High Court on Monday heard the Baldia Factory fire tragedy case in Karachi. The court raised question over the prosecution and asked why it had not challenged the acquittal of Rauf Siddiqui.

“It looks like that big fish are being provided protection. In small cases, if prosecution can file appeal, then why it did not file appeal in this case,” the SHC said and added ‘what stops court to take action against the prosecution’.

During the hearing of the case, Justice Agha asked Rangers prosecutor Rana Khalid had anybody acquitted in this case?

Khalid told the court that ex-provincial minister Rauf Siddiqui had acquitted. Justice Agha further questioned, had the prosecution appealed his acquittal.

When Rana Khalid replied in negative, the judge showed his annoyance over it saying the court could take action against the prosecution.  The court asked the prosecution to submit a reply in this regard in three months.

The junior lawyer said that barrister Faisal Siddiqui could not come to the court due to his busy schedule. On non-availability of the lawyer, the court rejected the plea of the heirs of the Baldia Factory fire victims to become party to the case.

The court further said that if barrister Faisal wanted to help the state, he could do so.

In Sept 2020, an anti-terrorism court awarded death penalty to two MQM workers, Zubair aka Charya and Abdul Rehman aka Bhola, who found guilty of setting fire to a garments factory in Karachi on September 11, 2012 which killed 264 people, majority of them were factory workers. The factory’s four gatekeepers — Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad — were also convicted for facilitating the carnage.

However, the court acquitted MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, then-provincial minister for commerce and industries, and three others — Iqbal Adeel Khanum, Umar Hassan and Dr Abdul Sattar Khan citing that prosecution failed to establish the charge against them. In January 2018, Rauf Siddiqui was declared accused in the Baldia factory fire. = DNA