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Baldia fire murder clause 'withdrawn'

Section 302 of the Pakistani penal code has been withdrawn in the Baldia fire case

Gulf News

Karachi: Junior minister for finance Saleem Mandvi Wala had said that section 302 of the Pakistani penal code has been withdrawn against the Baldia factory fire that killed more than 280 people.

He said it has been done as per the orders given by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

While many are still untraced, 289 men and women were burnt or suffocated last September when a garment factory in Baldia Town caught fire due apparently to a short circuit.

The labourers and workers could not escape as the owners had standing orders to close down all the factory gates and there was only one exit available when the fire erupted.

The tragic incident shook the nation and stirred a hot debate over the poor state of industrial and labour laws implementation and disregard and disrespect of the industrialists

to the state laws.

Business leaders had persuaded the premier to withdraw the murder clause from the case and the incident, one of the horrific in country’s history, might be treated as an industrial accident.

Mandvi Wala assured the business leaders that the prime minister has ordered the withdrawal of a murder case but the news took many aback, including governor Sindh Ishrtaul Ebad Khan who expressed his concerns over the move, sources said.

“We express grave concern on the recent order by the Prime Minister for withdrawal of charges against the owners of the Ali Enterprises,” said a statement of Clean

Clothes Campaign (CCC), a network of 15 European organisations trying to improve working conditions of the workers in the global garment industry.

“We believe that this is illegal, unjust, and immoral,” member of a CCC delegation visiting here said.

The Coordination Committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) also strongly condemned the move and demanded the government not spare the criminals behind the incident.

“That was one of the worst tragedies in the history of Pakistan and there must be a just investigation so that those who were responsible could be brought to the justice,” the MQM said.

Assurance One of the MQM provincial ministers had resigned from his office when the inferno ate away so many lives and ruined the lives of hundreds of their poor dependents.

Senator Jehangir Badar, who is the secretary general of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party however recorded his statement in upper house Wednesday that there was no such directives from the Prime Minister.

He told the senate that it was not the jurisdiction of the premier and chief minister of the province could change the First Information Report (FIR) but even he had not ordered or done so.

Badar assured the house that the government would not withdraw the case.