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Court orders exhumation of Keamari victims` bodies for autopsy

By Naeem Sahoutara and Imtiaz Ali 2023-02-10
KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Thursday allowed an application moved by police for exhumation of bodies of 15 of the 19 people died allegedly from inhaling toxic emissions in Keamari.

Sixteen children among the 18 victims reportedly died in Keamari`s Ali Ahmed Goth over the last three weeks after inhaling toxic fumes emitted from several industrial units and factories.

On Thursday, Judicial Magistrate (West) Khizar Hayat resumed hearing on the application seeking permission to exhume the bodies of the victims in order to establish the `actual` cause of their deaths.

Relatives of the victims, who had lodged a total of 10 FIRs against `unidentified` owners/operators of industrial units and factories in the locality, appeared in court on notice.

They gave their consent before the court to allow the procedure of exhuming of the bodies they had buried without completing medico-legal procedures.

After their consent, the magistrate allowed theexhumation plea and directed the provincial health department to constitute a medical board to supervise the exhumation, conduct post-mortem procedures and submit a report of its findings in court.

Officials said that bodies of three children would be exhumed later as their grandfather Ali Hasan was not present in court on Thursday.

Sepa asked to take fresh samples Also on Thursday, police investigators took some more samples from industrial units in Keamari.

Keamari SSP-Investigation Syed Saleem Shah said that the investigators had also asked the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to take fresh samples of the factories that had been unsealed to ascertain air quality.

He said there were a total of 21 `small` industrial units established in residential areas.

About exhumation, he said that the court had allowed exhumation of the bodies of 14 persons for ascertain cause oftheir death.

He said that the police would approach the health department to issue directions to the police surgeon to set up a medical board for exhuming the bodies.

However, Police Surgeon Summaiya Syed told Dawn she was waiting for the written order to proceed further.

The SSP-Investigation said that doctors had earlier carried out the postmortem examination of only one victim child Abdul Aleem. They sent the samples to labs and were waiting for the final report of experts regarding the cause of his death.

On Wednesday, in compliance with a Sindh High Court order, the police had registered 10 FIRs under Sections 322 (manslaughter), 384 (negligent conduct with respect to poisonous substance) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code against unknown owners/ operators of the factories/ industrialunits.

In the FIRs, the complainants stated that several industrial units operating in Ali Muhammad Goth produced recycled material allegedly without putting in place safety arrangements. They added that these factories were emitting smoke causing environmental pollution in the locality. They also alleged that these hazardous emissions had resulted in the deaths of 18 people.

Police had registered the cases without mentioning names of factory owners.