MQM carried out the massacre at Baldia for not getting 250 million in extortion, says the owner
- They had been paying the extortion money to the MQM every month, said the owner of Baldia Factory.
- “We were portrayed as villains and the real culprit was shown as a hero,” he said.
- He also identified MQM lawmaker and six other accused as involved in the massacre.
The horrific incident of Baldia Factory massacre that engulfed around 250 people alive happened in September 7 years back but the pathetic and delayed response by the state in the provision of justice to the families of victims exhibits the disregard towards the rights of the already sidelined section of the society.
The owner of the Baldia factory unveiled the distressing details whilst recording his statement from the Pakistan consulate in UAE via a video link.
Arshad Bhaila – the owner of the factory told the court that the gruesome act of setting alight 250 people in their factory was intentionally carried out by the accused persons on the instructions of MQM supremo.
ATC judge during the conduct of the trial at the judicial complex recorded the statements. The judge put the accused persons before the witness Arshad Bhaila with the purpose of identification through the video link.
The witness identified Abdur Rehman Bhola, Zubair Chariya, and four factory gatekeepers according to the report available with Dawn. Bhaila denied identifying Raof Siddiqui saying that he’d seen him only through media and never met him in person.
The factory owner also informed the court that they had been paying the extortion money to the MQM every month and inducted Mansoor Ahmed as the production manager of the factory who was in connection with the political party.
In 2005, the production manager inducted Zubair Ahmed in the factory’s finishing department. Zubair Ahmed was the brother of the then sector in-charge of MQM in Baldia Town, the owner of the factory said.
While further revealing the ordeal he told the court that in 2012 the manager told him that they would have to pay more money in extortion, adding that one day while they were leaving their factory Abdul Rehman Bhola – the new sector in-charge of Baldia Town intercepted them and threatened to contact the then MQM Karachi Tanzeemi Committee head Hammad Siddiqui for the matter of extortion money.
The owner said that, later on, Bhola informed them that Siddiqui had demanded them to pay 250 million rupees and 50 percent share in the factory as well. Subsequently, he asked the manager Mansoor Ahmed to settle the matter against a payment of Rs 10 million on their behalf.
Upon repeated demands for money by the MQM, said the owner, they decided to shift their business to Bangladesh and also visited the country in this regard. Narrating the incident of September 11, 2012, Mr. Bhaila told that the fire first broke out in the basement of the factory and then on the upper floor of the building. The fire brigade staff also arrived 60 to 90 minutes after the fire broke out.
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The head of the Citizens-Police Laison Ahmed Chinoy then sent a message to them, said the owner of the factory, and informed that it was not safe to stay at the burning building. Therefore, they moved to a relative’s place. Soon after they vacated the area MQM workers took over the place and didn’t let anyone go inside the factory, he revealed.
Mr.Bhaila also said that a factory worker named Kashif told them that Zubair Charya and five unknown men were seen smoking hashish in the factory’s canteen when the fire erupted. The owner also informed that Zubair was involved in setting the factory on fire.
“We were portrayed as villains and the real culprit was shown as a hero,” he lamented, adding that FIR of the incident was registered against them by the police under pressure from the provincial minister Rauf Siddiqui. The same Raof Siddiqui was involved in the massacre at Baldia Town Factory – the worst incident of the arsenal that left the 250 lives to end in smoke.
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