Karachi: Days after a major fire in a garment factory here claimed 289 lives, three of its owners facing murder charges were granted protective bail till September 21 by a Pakistani court today, even as the provincial Industries and Commerce Minister resigned over the tragedy.
Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad and Shahid were granted bail by the Sindh High Court`s circuit bench in Larkana for Rs five lakh each after their lawyer Abid Mansoob Qureshi filed an application in this regard.
The court, while granting the trio protective bail till September 21, directed the Interior Ministry to place their names on the Exit Control List (ECL) barring them from leaving the country, besides ordering them to appear before the investigative officer here tomorrow, local media reported.
It also directed the factory owners to hand over their passports to the reader of the concerned court in Karachi.
Later, Arshad said that he did not know what caused the fire in the factory.
"The fire tenders had too little water to extinguish the fire and went for refilling to Sakhi Hassan," he was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune.
He claimed the owners remained in the factory till midnight but then an "important person", whom he did not name, asked them to leave the premises.
He said there was nothing wrong with the factory and everything was according to factory bylaws.
"We have sought this bail because we want to be with our workers who are injured and we want to mitigate their sufferings," Arshad said.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Industries and Commerce, Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, stepped down in the wake of country`s worst industrial disaster, Geo News reported.
Quoting unnamed sources, it said the resignation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement`s Rauf Siddiqui has been sent to Governor Isharat-ul-Ibad.
Siddiqui demanded a full scale independent inquiry into the tragedy.
"I have resigned because of the major tragedy and being the industries minister I feel I need to set an example. I want a full scale independent inquiry into the incident so that those who are responsible for this tragedy are brought to book," he said.
PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif today visited the factory site with his party members and workers.
Sharif, who promised compensation of 300,000 rupees each for the deceased on behalf of the Punjab government, told reporters that all those whose negligence caused this tragedy must be punished to set an example for the future.
Meanwhile, defence lawyer Abid Qureshi said that the "court has ordered that my clients cannot be arrested for the eight day bail period".