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Renowned forensic science professor, 3 family members, servant die in Karachi fire

Renowned forensic science professor, 3 family members, servant die in Karachi fire

KARACHI: Former head of Jinnah Sindh Medical University’s forensic science department Prof Farhat Baig Mirza, his two sisters and one brother, all aged between 70 and 82 years, and a servant died when a fire broke out in a bungalow in Mohammad Ali Society early on Thursday morning, police, hospital officials and the doctor’s colleagues said.

They all died from suffocation, doctors said.

The late doctor’s wife and a sister were rescued. While fire experts were yet to determine the exact cause of the blaze, police sources and the doctor’s friends said that apparently a short circuit triggered the blaze.

Dr Mirza’s death was considered a big loss for forensic science as he had been the head of Sindh health department’s medical board, examining medico-legal cases for years. Besides, he was also chairman of the recently formed body by the government under directions of the apex court to bring about reforms in this particular field, doctors said.

The Bahadurabad police said that the fire erupted in a house located on Meer Ahmed Shah Road in Mohammad Ali Society and the five persons “expired by suffocation owing to smoke”.

Short circuit blamed for the tragedy

The deceased were identified as Dr Farhat Mirza, 70, his brother Sultan Mirza, 82, their sisters Sabia Mirza, 78, and Shahista Mirza, 72, and their servant, Akbar, 45.

A fire brigade official said that they received information about the incident at around 3.40am on Thursday. The blaze had erupted in two rooms located on the ground floor of the bungalow. Three fire tenders put out the fire at 8.05am.

He said they had recovered six persons in “semi-conscious” state and shifted them to hospital. The fire official said that the exact cause of the fire could not be ascertained immediately. The fire caused damage to the home also.

Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC, said all the five persons were brought dead to the hospital.

Dr Mirza’s obituary

Prof Dr Farhat Baig Mirza had been associated with forensic science for the last four decades and he was considered an authority on medico-legal cases not only in Pakistan but abroad also.

Dr Seemin Jamali described him as a “thorough gentleman”.

The JPMC’s additional police surgeon, Dr Summaiya Syed, said Dr Mirza’s tragic death was “heart wrenching” for them.

“He had a larger than life persona, someone who would enter a room to command,” said Dr Syed. “His dedication to his chosen subject of forensic medicine is evident throughout his career spanning well over four decades.”

Another additional police surgeon of the CHK, Dr Qarar Abbasi, who had been associated with Dr Mirza for years, termed it a great loss to the field of forensic science.

He was head of the department of forensic science at the JSMU. He had recently retired as per policy of the PMDC because he had reached the age of 70, recalled Dr Abbasi. He was still teaching at JSMU in capacity of a supervisor for FCPS candidates.

Dr Farhat Baig Mirza’s third sister, Dr Fiza Mirza, who is former medical superintendent of the Sindh Government Liaquatabad Hospital, was rescued, said Dr Abbasi.

He left behind a widow and two daughters to mourn his death.

Funeral prayer of the four family members were held at Bilal Masjid in Mohammad Ali Society near the home of President Arif Alvi, which was attended by doctors and other city dignitaries in a large number.

They were laid to rest near the graves of their parents in the Isa Nagri graveyard.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021

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