Brother of Atlas factory fire victim moves court

Brother of Atlas factory fire victim moves court
KARACHI: The family of a chemical engineer, who died in a blast at an Altas Group factory, has moved court against the police’s recommendation to close the case on the pretext that five among six victim families didn’t want to pursue it.

Niaz Muhammad, brother of Muhammad Aamir, filed an application in the court of District Malir’s Judicial Magistrate IX seeking a reinvestigation by other officers and inclusion of section 302 (premeditated murder) in the FIR of the incident against Altas Metals (Private) Limited.

Six people – Aamir (25), Inayatullah (40), Muhammad Salim (30), Shadman (45), Khalid (35), and Imran (37) – were killed while one, Faheem, was wounded as a blast occurred at a furnace in the factory situated in Altas Industrial Park in Landhi on November 14. According to Bomb Disposal report, the incident occurred due to high gas pressure.

The FIR stated that the initial investigation suggested that the blast followed by a fire that killed the employees was caused due to negligence of the company management, therefore, charges have been brought up against it under sections 322 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the state at Shah Latif police station.

Later, the police submitted a ‘c-class’ report as under section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the court that no sufficient evidence was found against the management, and that the ‘legal’ heirs of the victims did not want to pursue the case as they had reached an agreement with the company.

A written oath by Innayatullah’s wife Yasmin Bano submitted with the court office stated that her husband had died in an “accident” at the factory and she and the rest of the family would not want any court proceedings on it because the company management is not responsible for this.

Muhammad in his plea alleged, “The investigation officer failed to conduct fair investigation and received huge amount from the company administration and played a role of company agent rather, he pressurized the families of the deceased to compromise on the matter outside the court and so he succeeded to get signed affidavits.”

SIO PS Shah Latif Hussain Bux told Naya Daur that the case was subjected to ‘c-class’ because neither the company management was responsible for the incident nor were most of the victim families interested in pursuing the case. He said only Aamir’s family had not consented.

He claimed that the said family was not cooperating as police approached them several times for a statement but they declined, saying that they didn’t want to say anything at the time. He said that even the investigation couldn’t progress because the victims died of their own fault, therefore, the court was recommended to close the case.

Citing his brother’s dying declaration, Muhammad told the court that the management having warned that lives may be lost conducted the experiment. He claimed that an India-based consultant of the company had already told the management of the danger.

He claims that the experiment was to process aluminum in a lead furnace. “Few days before his death, Aamir had told that the company was planning to conduct this experiment because the dedicated aluminum furnace would not work. He had assessed it to be dangerous. However, the team resolved that there were fifty-fifty chances of success and failure,” he said.

He added that Aamir on his death bed had told him that at his office desk they could find a diary and some documents in his drawer which could explain the whole experiment story. He said that company management did not provide him with these things while returning his belongings. He demanded that the fitness report of the plant for the experiment, footage of the incident, names of those who ordered execution and those who ordered sweeping of the site soon after the incident should be brought forward.

Aamir’s family lawyer Shams-ur-Rehman said that they had moved an objection on the police report seeking closure of the case and have asked the court to reject it. “The court will hear arguments on December 26 and we are hopeful that we will be able to stop the attempt to cover up the crime.”

A lawyer of the company Siraj Ahmed Mashori said that the brother of the deceased was trying to exploit the case while he was not even the ‘legal’ heir. He said that the application was not maintainable because the company isn’t responsible in the first place and secondly no family but that of Aamir wanted to take the case forward. He said that the case should have come from the wife of Aamir.

The Atlas Group in collaboration with Honda Motor Company Limited Japan is engaged in manufacturing and marketing of motorcycles and their spare parts. The factory produced the metal required for making of the parts.

The CEO and the company was asked to comment but the request was not entertained.

The author is a reporter associated with The News and covers political beat and tweets @zubairrashraf