Reporting by Irfanul Haq & Salman Ahmed
Files containing case records were burnt as a fire broke out at a Karachi court late Tuesday night.
The fire erupted at the warehouse and record room of the City Courts in Saddar at 2:25am.
Blasts were heard as explosive material and ammunition were stored at the warehouse. Weapons, drugs and other material related to cases were also there. A part of the warehouse roof caved in.
It took four and a half hours to douse the flames. Five firefighters participated in the rescue work after police and Rangers cordoned the area off. Traffic on roads leading to the court was also blocked.
The chief fire officer said at 7am that cooling process was underway. A bomb disposal squad team has been summoned to inspect the site.
Police officials say the fire broke out due to short circuit. According to the City SSP, the warehouse was locked from outside when the fire erupted inside. “So far, we don’t see any malicious intent,” he said. “An inquiry will reveal further details.”
Sindh IG Allah Dino Khawaja said the government should consider setting up an underground safe for keeping important case material.
On the other hand, all proceedings at the court scheduled for today have been suspended. “Until the bomb disposal squad clears the building, no one will be allowed to enter the court,” said the general secretary of the Karachi Bar Association.
The fire beneficiaries
Legal experts said the destruction of case records will directly benefit high-profile suspects such as Lyari’s Uzair Baloch and former MQM sector incharge Raees Mama.
“We have been demanding the transfer of the court warehouse to another location and want the same today,” said Karachi Bar Association President Haider Imam Rizvi. He said Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh should order an inquiry under a judge. According to him, there has been no progress in fire incidents at court warehouses. “They continue to benefit the suspects.”
Cases against Mujahir Qaumi Movement chief Afaq Ahmed are also being heard at the City Courts.