LAHORE - A child en route to a hospital died in an ambulance yesterday as Imran Khan-led protest rally paralysed the routine life in many parts of the metropolis.

Thousands of PTI workers marched from Shahdara to Faisal Chowk for accountability of the rulers. Along the rally route, traders closed down their businesses and the petrol pumps suspended the supply.

Some 5000 police were deployed on the city roads to provide security cover to the protesters in addition to hundreds of plainclothesmen, who were among the participants to keep an eye on the activities miscreants.

Citing security concerns, the authorities placed dozens of heavy containers on all important roads to block vehicular traffic along the route of the rally. The administrative action triggered traffic mess across the metropolis as police sealed off The Mall and its adjoining arteries by placing heavy containers to restrict the public movement.

Two-year-old Abdullah, son of Shabbir, expired in an ambulance on the GT Road near Shahdara when he was being shifted to a hospital, rescue workers said. His father made repeated requests to the policemen but they did not allow the ambulance to pass through the route.

The TV footage showing a poor and helpless father carrying his son in arms next to an ambulance caused outrage on the social media as well. The provincial government blamed protesters for paralysing the routine life in Lahore, while opposition parties and the PTI supporters said the child expired in the ambulance because of containers placed by the authorities. They held that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the lives and properties of the citizens and maintain law and order.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sahrif yesterday constituted a special committee to investigate death of the child in traffic mess. An official said that the Lahore commissioner, DCO, and CCPO are members of the committee.

Police sources, in an initial statement, said the child had already died at his home and “the parents were taking him only to confirm the child’s death”. Even so, the poor father remained unable to reach the hospital.

In a separate incident, a female reporter of a private TV channel sustained multiple injuries as she fell down from the top of a crane, where media crews were busy in covering the event. The lady was shifted to hospital with serious injuries.

Several parts of the provincial metropolis witnessed worst traffic mess as police blocked The Mall early yesterday. Whenever the road is blocked, wardens have to divert the traffic to alternative routes. The practice causes worst traffic jumbles in the areas of Civil Lines, Garhi Shahu, Racecourse, Qila Gujjar Singh, Lower Mall, Samanabad, Lytton Road, and Lower Mall, and Mozang.

Also, the commuters on Ferozpur Road, Jail Road, Canal Road, and Davis Road get stuck in the traffic mess.

Dozens of traders staged a protest demonstration on The Mall, in order to press the government to stop rallies in the city’s downtown. They said that the business community had been suffering huge losses because of everyday protests.

“These protests are destroying our business. Traders always heave a sigh of relief when police clear the movement of traffic on The Mall. Customers don’t visit shopping malls amid traffic mess,” said Haji Muhammad Khan, who runs a garments shop in the area.

Several leading shopping centers are located on both sides of The Mall.