Baldia fire: ATC rejects Bhola’s bail application, will decide Rauf’s fate on Jan 6

KARACHI: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Wednesday rejected bail application of Abdul Rehman alias Bhola Abdul Rehman alias Bhola in the Baldia factory fire case after having convinced with the prosecution that there were ‘strong’ evidences against him.

Bhola, a former in-charge of Baldia sector of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was held by the Interpol and Crime Suppression Division of the Thailand police in December 2016 in Bangkok after his red warrant was issued by the Pakistani authorities on court orders.

Bhola , one of the prime suspects of the inferno that claimed at least 250 lives, retracted from his confessional statement and informed the court that the same recorded under immense pressure. His counsel requested the court to release Bhola on bail.

After hearing the arguments from both sides prosecution and defence, the ATC which conducts the trial inside the prison, pronounced its verdict that was reserved earlier. The accused person cannot be granted bail as there were sufficient evidences against him, the court ruled.

The ATC also deferred its order till Jan 06 on another application filed by the prosecution asking the court to declare MQM lawmaker Abdul Rauf Siddiqui as co-accused in the case.

In the case, only two suspects, Abdul Rehman alias Bhola and Zubair alias Charya, are in custody whereas Hammad Siddiqui, the head of the MQM’s Karachi Tanzimi Committee (KTC) and said to be main culprit behind the inferno, was still not implicated in the case. The Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani, factory owners Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, have now been relieved of the charges.

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.