Pak SC raps police over 10-year-old’s death in ‘encounter’

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Islamabad, Sep 25: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took the police and administration of a private hospital in Karachi to task over alleged negligence that led to the death of 10-year-old girl Amal Umer. The minor had lost her life after being hit during an exchange of fire between policemen and robbers during an ‘encounter’ last month.

The court also formed a two-member committee that would give recommendations for an inquiry into the minor’s death.

At the outset of the hearing of the suo motu case, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar regretted that the child had lost her life due to alleged negligence first on the part of Karachi police, and then the administration of National Medical Centre (NMC) in DHA area.

“Can Amal be brought back?” he lamented, adding that he could not assign the inquiry of the incident to police because he is unhappy with the security force.

Beenish Umer, the mother of the deceased girl, recounted the ordeal they went through after taking their injured daughter to NMC on the night of August 13. She said when she called for an ambulance, she was asked whether they had booking for a bed at Jinnah hospital.

Also, NMC staff did not allow the parents to take with them the ambu bag that was attached to Amal, she said, adding that her daughter died before she could be shifted to another hospital.

She said an inquiry revealed two days later that the bullet that hit Amal had been fired by a policeman, and that it had come from a machine gun.

“Are we living in Kashmir, Afghanistan or Syria?” she wondered.

The CJP then asked the counsel for the child’s parents what could be done to prevent similar incidents in the future. He said it needed to be investigated how a policeman opened the fire that led to Amal’s death.

The lawyer informed the court that the rules bound only government hospitals to provide emergency treatment to critical patients, and not private medical institutions.

He said NMC is a major hospital in Karachi and it was strange that it did not have ambulances.

The capital city police officer (CCPO) Karachi said Amal’s parents had informed him that their daughter was hit by a bullet fired by a policeman when he visited their residence to condole.

“This is police negligence… who opens fire on a crowded street?” remarked Justice Ijazul Ahsan, another member of the bench.

The CCPO claimed one of the suspected robbers was shot dead during the exchange of fire. At this, Amal’s father interjected and said there are seven bullet marks on his car.

“[Police] should not have heavy weaponry to control street crimes,” observed CJP Nisar.

“You handed machine guns to policemen without training them first,” Justice Ahsan said, addressing the CCPO.

The police officer responded by saying, “Our policemen are martyred [during such incidents]”. The CJP, however, reminded him that they needed to be trained adequately first.

The court asked the NMC administrator why they had asked Amal’s parents to take her to another hospital in a critical condition.

The administrator responded that the bullet had pierced the child’s head and exited. “Such a wound could not have been treated,” he added.

The CJP observed that the hospital could have at least arranged an ambulance to shift the child, telling the official: “You only know how to mint money.”

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