There can be few deaths more agonising than death by fire. A nameless newborn female infant was dumped on a rubbish heap near Faisalabad. As is common, those charged with the destruction of the rubbish that people bring for disposal, set fire to the heap — and it was the screams of the child as it burned that alerted them to the tragedy that then unfolded. A Rescue 1122 team was called and the baby, less than 30 hours old it has been estimated, was taken to the hospital at Chak Jhumra with 80 per cent burns. She was later shifted to the emergency ward of the Allied Hospital and a team worked for 19 hours to try and save her but she died of her injuries on November 28, a tiny life snuffed out almost before it had started.
Neither the hospital team, nor Rescue 1122 nor even the men who set fire to the rubbish are responsible for the death of this child, which rests solely with the person that placed her on the rubbish heap. It is unlikely that the person who committed this dreadful act will ever be identified, let alone prosecuted. In all likelihood, it was one of her parents and possibly her mother. Whoever did it might have hoped that the child would be found and taken to one of the refuges or orphanages in the city, as it is hard to believe that she was placed there in the knowledge that she was likely to be consumed by fire.
Babies are abandoned for many reasons. They may be an unwanted female. They may have been born in secret, out of wedlock. They may have been born into a family with a multitude of mouths to feed and one more was simply unsustainable. Whatever the reason, no baby deserves the fiery death that this child had. This child will go to an unmarked grave, unloved and forgotten. The wider tragedy — and disgrace — is that she will be one of hundreds, perhaps thousands that are similarly left behind and die.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2013.