KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday extended the police remand of the owner of a factory for five days who was held over deaths of 18 people due to alleged leakage of toxic gases from his factory in Keamari.
Police had arrested the owner of a plastic recycling factory, Khair Muhammad alias Sher Muhammad, and booked him along with co-owners Shahid Husain and Saeed Khan over their alleged negligent conduct that led to the emission of toxic fumes resulting in deaths of 18 residents of Ali Muhammad Goth over the last two weeks.
On Wednesday, the investigating officer (IO) produced the held factory owner before the judicial magistrate (West) on expiry of his physical remand in police custody and pleaded to extend the same for further questioning.
The IO submitted that the suspect was running a plastic recycling factory from where toxic fumes were released in the area. He further submitted that the suspect was running such industrial unit without having obtained any authority letter or licence from the authorities concerned.
To the magistrate`s query about progress in the investigation, the IO informed that the deputy commissioner concerned had sealed off the said factory due to which he could visit the same to collect the evidence, etc.
However, he said a letter had been sent to the health authorities and a reply was awaited.
The magistrate expressed his annoyance over the delays in investigation of the matter saying he apparently was just relying upon communications despite the passage of many days.
The IO said the affected people had alleged that their relatives had died from inhaling the toxic gases emitted from the factory owned by the held suspect and his two brothers, who were still at large.
On the other hand, Advocate Munawar Ali Lakhair filed power of attorney on behalf of the held suspect Khair Muhammad and submitted that his client was not running any factory, but owned a warehouse.
Suspect Khair Muhammad said that he was doing the business of plastic bags` recycling and claimed had this work produced any toxic gases, his labourers would have died first.
He added that the deaths were rather caused by the measles outbreak in the area.
The complainant alleged that the suspects were running the plastic recycling business without taking preventive measures, adding that the residents had first fallen sick after inhaling the toxic gases emitted during the process and then they had died.
Granting the IO`s request, the magistrate extended physical remand of the suspect in police custody for five days, and directed the IO to produce him on the next date along with an investigation report.