260 deaths: Two sentenced to death for deadly 2012 Pakistan factory fire

Clay Curtis
September 22, 2020

Following the verdict, a statement was issued by MQM-P's Faisal Subzwari saying that Rauf Siddiqui's acquittal "is proof of the fact that MQM had no association with the case".

"[We] make it clear that patronage of any anti-social and law-breaking elements neither was nor will ever be a policy of MQM-Pakistan", the spokesperson added, according to Subzwari.

The court ruled that the blaze, which killed more than 260 factory workers in 2012, was a case of arson and not an accident. He expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

8 years on Women walk along a road with the abandoned building of the Baldia garment factory where the deadly fire occurred in the background, in Karachi, Sept 17, 2020.

No date has actually been set for the hanging of Abdul Rehman and Zubair Charya, the MQM employees who were founded guilty.

A later joint investigation team of nine senior police and intelligence officials concluded instead that the fire was "a planned sabotage/terrorist activity and not an accidental fire, carried out due to refusal to pay extortion of 200 million rupees".

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They allegedly acted on the instructions of the then chief of MQM's Karachi Tanzeemi Committee Hammad Siddiqui over the non-payment of Rs 250 million "protection money" by the factory's owners.

He said that the owners had been named among the affected partees in the JIT report.

The blaze sent shockwaves through the country, with calls for safety reforms and strict punishments for the culprits after survivors told stories of people trapped in the factory because the building's doors were locked and there was no fire exit.

The judge announced his verdict after some 400 witnesses testified during the high-profile trial in which ten accused were charged with setting the Ali Garments on fire.

The report said that the MQM Baldia sector had influence in the administrative affairs of the Baldia factory.

Prosecutor Shaikh referred to the testimonies of around 370 prosecution witnesses, including the first investigation officer of the case, Inspector Zafar Iqbal, and said the police's initial stance that an electric short-circuit had caused the fire in the factory was wrong.

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