- Zahid Hussain has not appeared before the court despite being summoned nor has he secured bail in the case
A Karachi court has initiated action for declaring Karachi Development Authority (KDA) executive engineer Zahid Hussain a proclaimed offender in the Korangi factory fire case, it was reported on Tuesday.
The judicial magistrate East conducted the hearing of Korangi’s Mehran Town factory fire case.
After the accused KDA executive engineer failed to show up in the court despite several summons, the local court directed concerned authorities to begin proceedings for declaring Zahid Hussain a proclaimed offender in the case.
Zahid Hussain has not appeared before the court despite being summoned nor has he secured bail in the case.
The court also directed police to submit a report by December 13.
Arrest warrants of suspects issued
Earlier, the court issued arrest warrants of Korangi deputy commissioner, administrator, and other officials in the Mehran Town Factory fire case.
The court said that the government departments committed criminal negligence in the case, and directed the police to arrest the suspects.
The accused include DC Korangi, deputy director environmental, K-Electric (KE) general manager, KE head of new connections, KDA Executive Engineer Zahid Hussain, Civil Defense Director Safdar Ali, and In-charge Fire Brigade Ishtiaq Ahmed.
The court also ordered that the name of the labour department officer should be removed from the list of the people accused of criminal negligence.
The court observed that the labour department had issued a notice to the factory while a case against the factory owners had already been filed in the labour court.
It observed that if the relevant departments had fulfilled their responsibility then such incidents would not occur.
In August, at least 17 labourers, including five belonging to one family, died after a chemical factory in Karachi's Korangi area caught fire.
Investigation revealed that more than 20 labourers were inside the compound when a highly flammable chemical caught fire which spread to the entire building.
Rescue officials faced difficulties due to smoke while they tried to break the factory walls to retrieve the labourers inside. Reports also suggested fire rescue services reached the site after a delayed response time.
The fire brigade teams also faced difficulties in the rescue operation because of the narrow lanes leading to the factory.
After the incident, the Korangi Industrial Area police station registered an FIR, nominating the building owner, Faisal, factory owner, Mehta, factory manager, Zaidi, two supervisors, and the watchman.
The case was registered under Sections 34 and Section 322 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Revelations in investigation report
The police found that factory owner Mehta holds dual nationality of Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The report transpired that the 600-yard plot on which the factory was built was allotted to a man named Faisal.
The factory was operational on a plot listed as a residential site. Besides, as reported by the labour department and the SECP, the factory was not registered with either of the two authorities nor were its workers and employees provided any training.
Mehta had rented the premises for Rs300,000 per month from Faisal, it stated.
It said that the building had a single entry and exit point and there was no emergency exit. When the fire broke out, workers trapped inside the factory ran up to the roof to save themselves but found the gate at the stairs locked.