Civic bodies, labour dept being investigated in Mehran Town factory fire case, court told
Civic bodies, labour dept being investigated in Mehran Town factory fire case, court told

KARACHI: Police have launched investigations against certain departments of the provincial government and civic agencies and summoned their officials concerned along with relevant record in the Mehran Town factory fire probe.

The fire had engulfed the industrial unit, BM Luggage, in Mehran Town on Aug 27 killing 16 workers.

Factory’s owner Hassan Meetha alias Ali Meetha, its building’s owner Faisal Tariq, three supervisors — Syed Imran Ali Zaidi, Zafar and Rehan and watchman Syed Zarin — have been booked for their alleged involvement in the death of the 16 workers.

Police had arrested Hassan Meetha, Faisal Tariq and Imran Ali Zaidi after District and Sessions Judge (East) Khalid Hussain Shahani had revoked their interim pre-arrest bail.

Magistrate sends factory owners to prison on judicial remand

On Saturday, the investigating officer, Sub-inspector Izzat Khan, produced the held suspects before the judicial magistrate (East) upon expiry of their physical remand in police custody.

The IO submitted that the court had revoked the interim bail of the suspects on Sept 7 after examining building code and relevant laws.

He submitted that the sessions court had observed that “the authorities, who failed to discharge their functions include the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), labour department and inspectors, deputy commissioner concerned, Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC, Civil Defence Department). These all are responsible for the offence and ought to be implicated, investigated and taken to the task for the alleged crime”.

In the light of the observations of the court, the IO said he had issued summons to the relevant officers/officials of the K-Electric, SBCA, Sindh Civil Defence, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), KDA, its Anti-Encroachment Cell, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, the fire brigade and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited.

Issuing letters under Sections 160 (police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses) and 94 (summons to produce documents or other things) of the Criminal Procedure Code, the IO said he had summoned the officers/officials of these departments and agencies along with their respective reports with regard to action, if any, on their part against the owners of BM Luggage for running commercial activity in a structure officially approved for residential usage.

He further informed the magistrate that the fire department had particularly been asked to submit a report, replying to queries about the reporting of the fire incident, timing of their response and whether the blaze was caused by an electric short-circuit or gas leakage, etc.

He submitted that no reply had so far been received from any of these departments and agencies, adding that it was expected that they would respond in the next week.

He informed that the investigation was still under way, as two alleged absconding suspects, Zafar and Rehan, who were working in the factory as supervisors and also eyewitnesses of the incident, were yet to be arrested and interrogated.

The IO submitted that some nine bags containing samples of various burnt articles had been collected from the factory and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory of the University of Karachi for chemical and forensic analysis and its report was due in a couple of days.

The IO requested the judge to extend physical remand of the suspects in police custody for 14 days to complete the investigation and other legal formalities.

While turning down the IO’s request for extension in the suspects’ physical remand, the judge remanded them in judicial custody till Sept 18.

The IO was directed to produce them on the next date and also submit a report regarding investigation into the case.

A case was registered under Sections 322 (manslaughter) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Korangi Industrial Area police station on behalf of the state through SHO Mohammad Tariq Arain.

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