Baldia Town Arson: Pakistan’s greatest terror attack awaits justice

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News Analysis |

In Karachi, six years have passed since the horrific arson attack in Baldia town, but the family members are still waiting for justice to this day. On September 11, 2012, terrorists initiated a horrific arson attack in the Baldia Town factory and the working people within were brutally murdered in a gruesome manner. The garment factory “Ali Enterprises”, which is located in Plot 67, Hub Road, Baldia Town, Karachi was the site of this horrific attack.

As the fires raged in Ali Enterprises, there were more casualties due to the lack of emergency exits and iron bars were installed in windows located in the factory building. Initially, the fire that took place in the factory was labeled as an accident, but the investigative teams inspected from different angles and uncovered it as a deliberate act of terrorism. Due to the lack of seriousness of government and law enforcement agencies in the justice of the victims, the case of arson was registered four years after the incident.

It caught fire when sparks from a faulty electricity generator flew into chemicals. The generator was installed in the garage of the factory compound, which was also the only entry and exit point of the factory.

The Chief Minister Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah set up an inquiry commission. The MQM’s arrested workers confessed in the report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that “a party higher up” had told them to do the arson. The statement said that the information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, a worker of the MQM. According to them, the owner of the factory had been told to pay 200 million rupees as extortion. However, after the refusal of the owner, the assailants sprayed the factory with a chemical substance and set it ablaze along with the people inside.

The MQM workers arrested by the JIT were Anis Kaimkhani, now a leader of the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and MQM’s provincial minister at that time, Rauf Siddiqui. The PSP leader Anees Qaimkhani was arrested by Law enforcement in connection to Baldia Factory fire case; he was later released on bail. Moreover, Rehman Bhola who is currently under investigation for the incident also had joined PSP before his arrest.

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Last year, law enforcement agencies transferred the prime suspect Hamad Siddiqui, who was among the absconders of the case, from abroad. While in March 2018, another prime accused Raees Mama was also arrested and shifted to Karachi from Malaysia. PSP’s founder Mustafa Kamal has also publicly declared support to Hammad Siddiqui.

Coincidently, a shoemaking factory located on Band Road in Gulshan-i-Ravi in Lahore caught fire on the same day. It caught fire when sparks from a faulty electricity generator flew into chemicals. The generator was installed in the garage of the factory compound, which was also the only entry and exit point of the factory. At least, 25 people were killed by smoke inhalation, burns, and stampede in that inferno. At least 258 people died in the Baldia town inferno. This makes the Baldia Town Arson the deadliest terror attack in Pakistani history.

Those arrested include 826 terrorists, 334 target killers, and 296 extortionists. During this time period, 364 terrorists were also killed in the exchange of fire with Rangers. The paramilitary force seized 7312 weapons and 348978 cartridges.

It is followed by the 2014 APS attack that claimed the lives of 156 innocents and 2018 Mastung Bombing which caused the deaths of 149 people. The Baldia Town attack showcased the threat of militant wings of political parties of the life and limb of common Pakistanis. Before the coordinated Sindh rangers led operation in 2013, militant wings of parties such as the PPP, MQM, ANP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Sunni Tehreek ruled the metropolis of Karachi. Their reign of terror in the city based on extortion, target killing, and street crimes unleashed bloodshed in the city.

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However, the Sindh Rangers started an operation that destroyed the power of these militant wings. The Rangers have conducted 5,795 raids since September 05, 2013 and arrested 10,353 accused. Those arrested include 826 terrorists, 334 target killers, and 296 extortionists. During this time period, 364 terrorists were also killed in the exchange of fire with Rangers. The paramilitary force seized 7312 weapons and 348978 cartridges.

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