LAHORE - Ganga Ram Hospital was the nearest place to the tragic incident on Charring Cross. The injured and the dead bodies were rushed to the hospital emergency. The scenes at the hospital were horrifying and chaotic. But out of this chaos came the best of humanity that is inherent to Pakistanis. Everybody wanted to help in any way they could.

Within no time workers of different welfare organisations had rushed to the hospital to help. The volunteers of the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a welfare organization of Jamaat-i-Islami, Falah-e-Insaaniat and some other organisations had reached the place. A human chain had been made inside the Ganga Ram emergency to ensure clear passage for shifting the injured. The human chain was made by volunteers of these welfare organisations, people on the spot and victims’ families. A powerful show of unity could be witnessed.

20-year-old Umar Malik was also a victim of blast. He was the resident of Malik Park area of Lahore. Umar was a worker at Ayan Medical Store in the same vicinity.

His elder brother was weeping. “Umar was my dearest brother and he remained very humble throughout his life while dealing with others. Umar was very much dedicated to support his family,” he said.

Umar was recruited recently at the family run medical store. “He always welcomed the customers with a smile. Words are not enough to describe the love for my brother. Those who have taken life of my innocent brother should rot in hell,” Umar’s brother said. Umar was among the protesters demanding rollback of all the amendments made in the Drug Act.

A member of Elite Force, 30-year-old Irfan Mehmood, was from Ghulab Singh village of Okara District. He also lost his life in the line of duty to guard the protesters. A policeman who wished not to be named said Irfan was a brave policeman, who never hesitated to respond in difficult situations.

“We were together before the blast, but he moved forward in the crowd to stop the protesters that were negotiating with high police officials at the time,” he said.

19-year-old Muhammad Yousaf said he and his injured cousin were residents of Bhagbanpura, Ghoray Shah. “Our cousins Shehbaz and two females were badly injured. They were just passersby and got trapped in the situation,” he said. 

He said Shehbaz worked at an ice cream parlor in Fortress Stadium market and was 19-year-old. “My family was going to Anarkali for shopping and when they were passing by the Punjab Assembly, they got into the situation at the bad time. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he was of the view.

Muhammad Yaseen, who sells lantern toys on The Mall, said that he had a narrow escape from the blast because a traffic warden had asked him to sit in his cabin. “When I reached the cabin the blast took place. “I sell these toys everyday on The Mall. I have never seen such a big tragedy in my whole life,” Yaseen said.

Talking to The Nation, a passerby, Muhammad Afzal, said he was trying to cross the road near the crime scene, when a young man headed towards the mob and blew himself up near the senior police officers. “I, being at a safe distance, remained unhurt. After that a hue and cry began on the scene,” he said and added he ran towards some safer place.

Imran Ali, another eyewitness, said he was heading towards the Punjab Assembly from Regal Chowk on foot. “As soon as I reached near the protesters, a bomb exploded and stampede took place, on which I quickly left the spot,” he said.

A vendor, Naveed who sells burgers near Alfalah Building, said, “I was looking at the mob at Charing Cross where dialogue was underway between the police officers and the protesters, when all of a sudden, I heard a bang and rushed to the spot.” He claimed he helped rescuers in shifting the injured and bodies to hospitals by ambulances. “There were screams everywhere and people were lying in a pool of blood; my clothes also became red with blood,” said Naveed, also a UC councillor, and added he was a volunteer and often took part in rescue activities in case of an emergency anywhere. He claimed during the rescue work, a pickpocket deprived him of Rs 25,000.