Saturday, December 09, 2023

Police arrest builder's son in Karachi shopping mall blaze

More raids are being conducted to arrest builder and other suspects

Firefighters douse the fire at a shopping mall in Karachi on November 25, 2023. — AFP
Firefighters douse the fire at a shopping mall in Karachi on November 25, 2023. — AFP

  • Police conduct raids to apprehend builder, other suspects.
  • 5 suspects taken into custody following suspicion of links to fire.
  • FIR mentions mall didn't have fire extinguishers, emergency exits.

KARACHI: As the investigation into the RJ Shopping Mall fire progresses, the police have arrested Ehsan Dhoni, son of the mall's builder Arif Dhoni, during a raid near Tipu Sultan Road on Friday, The News reported.

Dhoni's arrest was confirmed by a senior police official who is part of the probe team, which is conducting more raids to arrest the builder and other suspects in the case.

The investigation team, on Wednesday, took five suspects into custody following suspicion of their links to the blaze inside the mall that left 11 people dead and injured five others on November 25.

The suspects are software house owners, Imran and Adnan, mall administrators, including Sultan and Faizan, and security in-charge Abid Shah.

The first information report (FIR) registered at Sharea Faisal Police Station pointed the accusing finger at various entities involved in the construction and maintenance of the ill-fated mall.

However, the final investigation report is yet to be completed.

No fire extinguishers, emergency exits

At least 11 people died after a huge fire erupted in a multi-storey shopping mall on Karachi’s Rashid Minhas Road last month, as the building kept burning due to a lack of fire extinguishers and no emergency exits.

A day after the fire incident, the government registered a case against Karachi Electric (KE), the fire brigade and other departments with the city's Sharea Faisal Police Station.

The FIR — with provisions of culpable homicide, negligence and damages for the lives lost in the tragic incident — mentioned that the fire in the building was suspected to have started due to a short circuit. 

It added that the building had no fire extinguishers and no emergency exits, while its map was also approved illegally.

"Bad materials were used in the construction of the building," the FIR stated.

According to fire brigade officials, nearly 50 people were trapped inside as rescuers doused fire during an intense hours-long operation involving two snorkels, eight fire tenders and a bowser.

It also mentioned the role of KE and the fire brigade, which issued a no objection certificate (NOC) to the shopping mall despite the use of defective material. It added that the company, government department and other institutions committed criminal negligence.