KARACHI, July06: The Sindh government made public the joint investigation team (JIT) reports of three high-profile cases concerning Uzair Baloch, the Baldia factory fire incident and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai after much controversy and litigation in courts.
Uzair Jan Baloch, passed on secret information regarding Pakistan Army installations to the Iranian intelligence and was behind a large number of targeted killings and politically motivated murders of rival gangsters and civilians. He also martyred several police and Rangers personnel and attacked police stations. In total, Baloch “confessed” to killing 198 people on ethnic and political grounds and owing to gang-war rivalry, according to the report.
The six-member JIT formed by the Sindh government in February 2016 to interrogate Baloch, comprising representatives of security and intelligence agencies, unanimously declared him as “black” guilty of the crimes alleged, finding that Baloch along with his gang members was involved in a large number of murders/target killings of his rivals and innocent citizens including ethnic and “politically motivated killings”.
Baloch, told the investigators that he and his accomplices killed 11 traders of the Shershah junk market in 2010 because they were “sympathisers” of a political party and gave extortion to that party. He also admitted that in order to take revenge of the killing of his father, he kidnapped his rival gang leader Arshad Pappu and two others with the help of certain police officers and murdered them brutally. In addition to the murders, the JIT said Baloch was also involved in extortion, land grabbing, China-cutting and narcotics trafficking.
Baloch disclosed that he obtained a fake birth certificate of Iran in the late 1980s with the help of his aunt, who was a dual Pakistani-Iranian citizen, and in 2006 managed to obtain his Iranian identity card and passport.
In 2014, when Baloch was residing with a friend in the Iranian port city of Chabahar, one Haji Nasir offered to arrange a meeting between Baloch and Iranian intelligence officers. A meeting with one such intelligence officer was subsequently arranged in which Baloch “was asked to provide certain information about armed forces officials […] besides general security environment of the city”, the report said.
“The accused is found involved in espionage activities by providing secret informations/sketches regarding Army installations and officials to foreign agents and Iranian intelligence officers. It also revealed that Baloch has a large number of assets in Pakistan and Dubai managed through black money and laundered huge amounts of money through his henchmen.
The probe team recommended that criminal proceedings should be initiated against Baloch in the light of his disclosures and challans of the cases in which he was nominated be submitted in courts. It said some of the crimes confessed to by him were cognisable before the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and Anti-Encroachment Cell, therefore Baloch and other accused should be handed over to these agencies for legal action.
The JIT said it was “strongly recommended” that Baloch be tried under the Pakistan Army Act for his espionage activities. Last month, Karachi prison authorities had disclosed before an antiterrorism court that a military court had sentenced Baloch to 12 years’ rigorous imprisonment in April this year after convicting him of spying for foreign countries.
Baldia factory a terrorist activity’
On the incident of Baldia factory a nine-member JIT came to the conclusion that the horrific Baldia factory fire in 2012 was not an accident but a “planned sabotage/terrorist activity” in which 259 workers were burnt alive.
The arson was carried out over the non-payment of Rs200 million extortion and refusal to agree to a partnership in factory profits, the report said.It held the then head of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, Hammad Siddiqi, and Rehman Bhola responsible for the tragedy.
The JIT was also critical of the initial police investigation into the case and observed that police dealt with it in an unprofessional manner and in a way that benefited “the offenders” instead of the victims for some “motives and gains”.
The JIT strongly recommends introduction of police reforms in order to avoid recurrence of such catastrophic investigative failures in future, the report said.
The investigation team suggested that a fresh first information report (FIR) be filed under terrorism charges against the eight accused, including Hammad Siddiqi.It also recommended an overhaul of the emergency services structure in Karachi, noting that the rescue services available in the metropolis of nearly 20 million people “are not capable enough to deal with such catastrophes of terrorism and mega accidents”.
The four members of a third JIT constituted by the Sindh government in April 2016 declared ex-chairman of Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai as “black” in light of his alleged “criminal/corruption history”.
According to the report, Morai, a friend of former home minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza, during his interrogation had “revealed his various criminal activities carried out through his political influence”.
“It has been found that the accused had established and maintained a very strong link with [a] few political figures and has accepted his involvement in financial corruption,”
He employed 50-200 people as ghost employees in the fisheries department and extorted money on a monthly basis from a former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society, the report said.
During his posting at a government dispensary in Ibrahim Hyderi, “he never practically served there but continuously received salary from [Sindh] health department”, according to the report.
About his business contacts, the JIT claimed Morai obtained the contracts of Toll Plaza link road on the Superhighway, contract of livestock check post at Nooriabad and contract of a cattle market and earned millions of rupees on a monthly basis.
It stated that Morai facilitated land grabbers in exchange for “huge bribes”, patronised gambling dens and also received bribes to clear land challans.
Morai, who according to the report was politically affiliated with the PPP, disclosed that Zulfikar Mirza provided “financial support, arms and ammunition” to the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi “to strengthen them to resist” the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Altaf).
According to the JIT report, he also disclosed that he was involved in the murder of former Pakistan Steel Mills chief Sajjad Hussain. However, a model court had acquitted Morai in that case in April last year citing lack of sufficient evidence.
Morai also told the JIT that he had contacts with Uzair Baloch and met him on Mirza’s direction. The JIT recommended that criminal proceedings should be initiated against Morai and he should be arrested and challans of the cases against him be submitted in the concerned courts.