Karachi: Empress Market blaze: arson attack case registered
KARACHI, March 28: While a police investigation to find the actual cause of the Empress Market blaze is under way, the Preedy police registered an arson attack case against unidentified suspects on Monday.
Dozens of shops in the historical Empress Market were destroyed in the fire which had broken out in the early hours of Sunday.
An FIR (216/2011) was registered against unidentified persons under Section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house etc) and 34 (with common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Preedy police station on behalf of the state.
However, Saddar Town SSP Irshad Sehar told Dawn that it was premature to say whether the fire was the result of an arson attack or something else.
He said he had constituted a three-member team, headed by a DSP, to carry out a probe into the incident.
“Normally we insert Section 436 of the PPC in every fire incident…and in this case the shopkeepers` association had openly expressed suspicions that it was actually an arson attack.”
The SSP said that the FIR was necessary to initiate the process of compensation to the affected shopkeepers. However, when asked as to why the FIR was registered on behalf of the state, he replied that none of the shopkeepers had come forward to lodge the FIR and therefore the police registered the case on their own to avoid any further delay.
Sources said that although the police had constituted an inquiry team, there was a dire need to carry out a probe similar to the one ordered by the then chief secretary to ascertain the cause of fire in the 2009 Revenue Record Office fire incident.
The chief secretary had constituted a special police investigation team, which had scientifically proved that the fire at the revenue record office was an arson attack.
The police had collected samples of the ashes from the scene and had sent them to Lahore for a chemical analysis. The results showed presence of chemicals suggesting that it was arson, a senior officer associated with the investigation told Dawn.