The Sindh High Court (SHC) dismissed the appeals by MQM members Rehman Bhola and Zubair Chariya against their respective death penalties concerning the infamous Baldia factory fire case.
The court, functioning through a division bench, decided to nullify the life sentences previously handed to four employees of the factory: Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood, and Ali Mohammad.
During this session, the court also acquitted MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, who held the position of provincial minister for commerce and industries at the time, along with Abdul Sattar, Iqbal Adeeb Khanum, and Umar Hassan due to insufficient evidence to substantiate the charges levied against them. This ruling effectively dismissed the appeals made by the government to challenge the acquittal of these four individuals.
This resolution comes after the bench reserved its judgment on the appeals, following comprehensive argument presentations from both parties on August 29.
Background of the Baldia Factory Fire Case
The backdrop to this case is rooted in the catastrophic events that unfolded on September 11, 2012, in Karachi’s Baldia Town. On that day, a lethal blaze engulfed a factory, claiming the lives of 264 individuals and causing injuries to over 300 others. Following the disaster, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) issued its verdict on September 22, 2020, where Zubair, also known as Chariya, and Abdul Rehman, colloquially known as Bhola, were condemned to death due to their established involvement in the tragedy.
Moreover, the ATC had sanctioned life imprisonment for the factory above employees – Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed (who later died in prison), Arshad Mehmood, and Ali Mohammad – recognizing their participatory roles in the incident. The high court bench had consented to hear the appeals from five convicts who contested their sentences concerning the tragic factory fire occurrence.