Rehman Bhola and Zubair Alias Charya, both belonging to the MQM, have been sentenced to death in the Baldia factory fire case. They had been charged with setting fire to a garment factory in Baldia Town in 2012, claiming the lives of 259 people, local media reported.
Senior MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui was acquitted on the lack of evidence against him.
The hearing into the case was held inside Karachi Central Jail on Tuesday. It took a total of 170 hearings and 8 years to conclude this case, Samaa TV reported.
Rauf Siddiqui, while speaking to the media after the verdict was announced, said that he was happy that justice had finally been served, “The screams of the workers who were set ablaze keep me up at night,” he added.
Baldia factory case
Two-hundred-and-fifty-nine workers were burnt alive in a factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town on September 11, 2012. The factory, Ali Enterprises, was located on Hub River Road and belonged to Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his two sons, Rashid Aziz and Shahid Aziz. German discount clothing retailer KiK (Kunde ist König, which in English translates into ‘Customer is King’) was the factory’s main customer.
تقریباً نو سال بعد سانحۂ بلدیہ ٹاؤن کیس کا فیصلہ سُنا دیا گیا۔ تین سو افراد کو زندہ جلا دینے کے جرم میں ایم کیو ایم کے رحمان بھولا اور زبیر چریا کو سزائے موت سُنا دی گئی۔ اس فیصلے سے یہ بھی ثابت ہو گیا کہ فیکٹری میں آگ لگی نہیں بلکہ بھتہ نہ دینے کی وجہ سے لگائی گئی تھی۔
— Iqrar ul Hassan Syed (@iqrarulhassan) September 22, 2020
The factory had been burned to the ground when the factory owner had refused to pay “Bhatta” or “protection money”. Nine individuals had been implicated in the crime, including former MQM sector in-charge Rehman Bhola and Charya, who had set the factory on fire.
Bhola allegedly threw a highly flammable chemical at the factory whilst setting it on fire. According to the report of the third JIT formed in the case, he did this at the behest of Hammad Siddiqui, former chief of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee.
This information was leaked to the authorities by an MQM member in 2015, Muhammad Rizwan Qureshi, also known as Pringle. He had told investigators that the Baldia factory fire had been started when factory owners Abdul Aziz Bhaila had refused to pay extortion money to MQM leaders. Initially, the Bhaila brothers had been charged with the crime.
GVS News Desk