DUBAI – Hammad Siddiqui, the former Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader was taken into custody in the UAE for his alleged involvement in the Baldia factory fire that left more than 250 labourers dead.
Siddiqui, the former head of the MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee left the country in May 2013 and his detention in Dubai came after Interpol reportedly issued a red notice.
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had last year ordered Pakistani authorities to get the accused arrested through Interpol following which the Ministry of Interior had also issued a red warrant for Siddiqui.
The MQM had expelled him from the party in May 2013 and he was believed to be the man behind the emergence of the Mustafa Kamal-led Pak Sarzameen Party.
Siddiqui’s name first surfaced in the Baldia factory fire case in February 2015 when a joint investigation team’s report submitted to the Sindh High Court stated that a suspect heard that the ill-fated industrial unit had been set to fire because the owners had refused to pay extortion.
Later, a new JIT was formed that interviewed the factory owners in the UAE after which a fresh charge sheet was submitted to an anti-terrorism court stating that Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, an MQM man who was brought back after his arrest in Bangkok in 2016, disclosed during interrogation as well as before a magistrate that he along with Zubair alias Charya and others set the factory ablaze.
According to Bhola, the Ali Enterprise factory was set ablaze intentionally on the instructions of Siddiqui because the factory owners had refused to pay the demanded Rs250 million ‘bhatta (protection money).