ATC makes Rauf Siddiqui investigation’s part in Balida factory inferno case

KARACHI: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday made Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui a part of the investigation of the Baldia factory fire case.

Granting the prosecution’s request, the court made Siddiqui, who at that time was the minister of industries and trade in Sindh, a part of the investigation and asked him to cooperate with the police. The special public prosecutor had maintained that the MQM leader was not implicated as the accused in the case despite the fact that there were sufficient evidences against him.

As per Abdul Rehman alias Bhola’s statement, Hammad Siddiqui had demanded Rs 250 million as protection money and a share in the profits from the factory owners and upon refusal, he as being the adhoc incharge of the MQM Baldia Town Sector, was tasked with arson at the factory.

The charge sheet also read the name of MQM lawmaker, Rauf Siddiqui, as a suspect who allegedly drew money from the factory owners to give them a kind of relief in the criminal proceedings against them.

“After the incident, Rauf had got the case registered against the factory owners and had got Rs 40 to 50 million to withdraw the case against them,” Bhola was quoted as telling to police in the charge sheet; however, he had now retracted from his earlier confession.

More than 250 people were burnt alive in the fire at Ali Enterprises garments factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on September 11, 2012. Baldia factory fire was one of the worst industrial incidents in Pakistan’s history. Ali Enterprises caught fire on September 11, 2012, which claimed the lives of 259 workers.

Though it was initially declared an accident; however, the Baldia factory inferno case took a dramatic turn on February 2015 when a report by Rangers claimed that the MQM was behind the deadly fire. The investigators had maintained that the fire was caused by activists belonging to the MQM after the factory owners refused to pay them extortion money.