Karachi ration stampede: Factory owner, employees sent on five-day physical remand

Suspects’ lawyer moves application requesting magistrate to discharge his clients which was rejected

By
Yousuf Katpar
Rescue workers stand at the incidents site in Karachis SITE Area on March 31, 2023. — Geo.tv
Rescue workers stand at the incident's site in Karachi's SITE Area on March 31, 2023. — Geo.tv

  • Detained suspects produced before judicial magistrate. 
  • Magistrate dismisses plea seeking to discharge suspects. 
  • IO directed to produce suspects on next hearing with report. 


KARACHI: A court in the port city approved five-day physical remand of a factory owner and his seven employees linked with the deadly stampede in the city's SITE Area that killed around a dozen people and injured several others, The News reported Sunday. 

Factory owner Abdul Khaliq, and his employees Ali Muhammad Younus, Khursheed Ahmed, Sajid Ali, Ghufran Ali, Azhar Mahmood, Ali Ahmed and Hussainzada were booked on the charges of manslaughter and negligence which led to the death of 11 people while injuring several others. 

The detained suspects were produced before the Judicial Magistrate (West) Bilawal by the investigating officer (IO) who requested their 14-day physical remand in police custody for interrogation.

According to the IO, the factory owner was distributing Zakat without informing the police or the civil administration. 

A large crowd, including women and children, had gathered inside and outside the factory to receive cash handouts, he said, adding that the incident occurred when the company staff opened the doors, prompting the people to force entry.

The IO said that 11 people were killed in the stampede and 10 others were injured. He requested the magistrate to hand over the custody of the suspects to the police so they could be interrogated and the investigation could be completed.

The suspects’ lawyer, however, moved an application requesting the magistrate to discharge his clients from the case under Section 63 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The counsel contended that his clients had been falsely implicated in the case because there was no evidence to corroborate the allegations levelled against them.

The state prosecutor, opposing the plea, argued that the suspects’ “wrongful act” had resulted in the loss of around a dozen lives, so they cannot be discharged from the case.

After hearing both sides, the magistrate dismissed the application, observing that the investigation was underway and the final charge sheet under Section 173 of the CrPC was yet to be filed. Moreover, he added, the suspects were nominated in the case with a specific role.

He granted five-day police remand of the suspects, with the direction to the IO to produce them on the next date of hearing, along with the investigation report.

On behalf of the state, through Sub-Inspector Malik Asif Zia, a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the SITE-A police station under sections 337H-2 (Punishment for hurt by rash or negligent act), 322 (Punishment for Qatl-bis-sabab) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. 

After the tragic incident, Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon on Friday announced the formulation of a policy for the regularisation of ration distribution campaigns to avoid stampedes.

Memon said that distributors should be sensitised about the fact that stampedes could occur during such drives. “They should inform the administration, and we will provide them security,” he said.

On the first day of Ramadan on March 23, a fruit distribution stall set up for deserving people was looted and destroyed near the Jail Chowrangi flyover. The fruits were being sold at Rs10 per kilogram at the stall for those who could not afford to buy them due to high prices during the holy month.

In the year 2009, 18 women and a girl lost their lives during a stampede during a ration distribution drive in Karachi. Since the food giveaway drives have become rowdy and dangerous, the commissioner has requested all the philanthropists to take the city or district administration along with the law enforcement agencies into confidence before carrying out such drives.