ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took notice on Tuesday of the death of 10-year-old Amal Umer, who was hit by a stray bullet during a police encounter on August 13.
According to media reports, Amal, her younger sister and parents were on their way to a concert when they stopped at a traffic light and a robber looted the family at gunpoint. After looting Amal's parents, the robber went to a car behind them and while they were waiting for the signal to turn green, the parents heard a gunshot - the shot hit their windscreen and hit Amal, who was in the backseat, on the head. The bullet that hit Amal was fired by a policeman attempting to kill the bandit. The family rushed to the nearest hospital - National Medical Centre - where they were told by the doctor on duty to take the child to either Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre or Aga Khan University Hospital.
Karachi youth killed in crossfire between police, drug peddlers
The hospital, according to the parents, refused to help with calling an ambulance. It also turned down the parents' request to let them take or show them how to operate the Ambu bag given to Amal to pump oxygen manually while she reached another hospital. The parents had also requested to be accompanied by a staff member for assistance to transfer Amal to another hospital. This too was denied.
Meanwhile, Amal's mother struggled on the phone with an Aman Foundation representative in an attempt to call an ambulance for her daughter. According to Amal's mother, the representative refused to send an ambulance till "arrangements were made" at Jinnah hospital. Despite the child's mother repeating that her daughter had been shot in the head and needed immediate medical help, the Aman Foundation representative told her "not to worry" and refused to provide an ambulance till the due procedure was completed.
By the time an ambulance was finally arranged, it was too late. Amal had already passed away for want of emergency medical aid.
Rickshaw driver killed in crossfire between police and alleged robbers in Karachi
It was later revealed that the bullet that took Amal's life was fired from a police weapon. The incident has raised two serious concerns - the failure of a well-known private hospital to provide emergency medical aid as required by the law and irresponsible firing by the police.
Taking notice of the issue, the CJP took suo motu notice and fixed the matter for hearing on September 25.
Notices have been sent to the advocate-general, health secretary, inspector-general of police and NMC administrator in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2018.