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SHC orders registration of FIRs over 18 mysterious deaths in Keamari

Jamal Khurshid
Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday ordered registration of FIRs with regard to recent 18 mysterious deaths in the Keamari area allegedly due to toxic gas emissions, and directed the authorities to inquire into the incident after recording statements of the affected families.

During hearing of petitions with regard to mysterious deaths in the Keamari area recently as well as in 2020, a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed asked the Sindh inspector general of police (IGP) how many persons had died recently in Keamari due to alleged toxic gas.

The IGP, Ghulam Nabi Memon, submitted that as many as 18 deaths had been reported, to which the high court asked him why FIRs of those deaths had not been registered and why the cause of deaths had not been examined properly.

The SHC observed that it was a human tragedy and each cause of death must be known. It remarked that the actual cause of deaths would ascertain if a proper investigation had been done.

The Sindh police chief submitted that complainants did not appear before the police for registration of the case, to which the high court observed that the state should itself register the cases if complainants did not turn up.

The bench directed that the incident should be investigated by a senior police officer and sought a report within two weeks. The SHC told the Sindh IGP to ensure the registration of FIR of each death after taking statements of the affected families.

A health department official also submitted medical reports pertaining to the deaths. Talking to journalists, the IGP said the high court had ordered the police to determine the cause of deaths and police would register separate cases after taking statements of the affected families and verification of the incidents.

It is pertinent to mention that the Sindh health department had in its interim report mentioned that 18 mysterious deaths were reported from Ali Mohammad Goth, Mawach Goth UC 8, District Keamari, during 16 days from January 10 till 25. They all exhibited symptoms of fever, sore throat and shortness of breath followed by death in five to seven days. Furthermore, the symptomatic patients did not show any rashes or conjunctivitis, although the community complained of a severely irritating smell in the environment.

Petitioners, including right activists, had approached the high court for ascertaining the cause of deaths in the Keamari gas leakage incident in 2020, in which 19 people had died and hundreds of others were affected due to mysterious poisonous gas leakage in the port area.

They had submitted that the federal and provincial authorities failed to protect the lives of citizens and no precautionary measures were taken by the port authorities to prevent the deadly leakage. They sought independent inquiry into the incident and a direction for the government to pay compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased persons, and affected citizens.