KARACHI: Ali Hasan Qadri, a Hyderabad-based businessman, approached on Saturday a district and sessions court requesting bail before arrest in the Baldia factory fire case.
Ali, said to be a confidant of Pak Sarzameen Party leader Anis Kaimkhani, has surfaced nearly six months after his name was revealed in the joint investigation team’s (JIT) report as a middle-man who reportedly struck a deal between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the factory owners, Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons, Arshad and Shahid.
Two-hundred-and-sixty people were burnt to death and around 50 were injured in the fire that engulfed the Ali Enterprises garment factory (dubbed Baldia factory) on September 11, 2012. The incident has been embroiled in controversies due to the changing investigations and the political angle. The latest probe deems the incident a planned arson attack over non-payment of extortion money.
The alleged middle-man, through his lawyer, moved a bail application before West district sessions court hearing the matter to avert his possible arrest in the case even though he is not formally nominated in the case.
He along with his brother, Umar Hasan Qadri, former MQM Karachi Tanzeemi Committee chief Hammad Siddiqui, former MQM Baldia Town sector incharge Rehman alias Bhola, Kaimkhani’s aides Dr Abdul Sattar and Iqbal Adeeb Khanum, factory employee Zubair alias Charya and four unidentified persons was named as a proposed accused in the JIT report.
The investigators had also suggested registration of a case against them under the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, the matter went into a state limbo due to the lack of response on part of the provincial home department.
The lawyer defending Ali submitted to the court that his client was a law-abiding citizen and reporting of his name in the case was without any basis. He added that naming his client in the JIT report without having him interviewed before casts doubt on the intentions of the investigators. He requested the court to grant his client bail before arrest as he was ready to face the charges if brought up against him.
Over the bail application, the judge issued notice to the public prosecutor tasked the case to argue over its maintainability and others on August 2.
The JIT report claims Ali is the suspect who helped strike a deal between MQM and the Bhailas. According to the investigators, in the aftermath of the tragic incident, the party was pressurising the owners to not disclose the facts to anyone. He approached the owners telling them that his brother had good ties with Kaimkhani, who at that time was MQM’s deputy convener. Around Rs59.8 million were paid to tone down the issue with the MQM, allegedly.
Meanwhile, the anti-terrorism courts’ administrative judge remanded Zubair, who allegedly executed the arson at the factory, to prison for the murder of a policeman in Pirabad area in 2014. He is also facing similar charges in other courts as well.