LAHORE - This was the heartrending moment when a nine-year-old boy was pulled from the Lahore canal near Abdul Sattar Edhi Road yesterday afternoon.

The child was hauled to safety by passersby who shouted “he is breathing” as they carried him from the canal. They put the boy on the footpath and pressed hard his chest to get water out. Later, the boy was shifted to nearby Farooq Hospital where his condition was said to be stable.

“Thank God, the child is safe and perfect. Actually, he is mentally retarded. He was dropped at the hospital by some passersby. We don’t know his name and we don’t have his address,” a medical officer at Farooq Hospital told The Nation last night.

According to hospital staff, the deputy medical superintendent himself handed over the child to the Chuhng police station when he was in stable condition. It was not clear yet whether the boy fell into the canal accidentally or someone threw him into the waters.

A young passerby jumped into the canal as he witnessed the child’s head in the canal water. “I thought he was struggling to come out of waters. So, I immediately threw myself into the canal to save the child,” said Naeem Khan.

The 26-year-old man and his two friends were walking alongside the canal as they noticed the boy was struggling to swim. “I thought the boy was taking a bath in the cold water. But in fact, he was drowning. I am happy because he is safe and sound,” Khan said.

In July, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif named the newly-constructed highway from Motorway to Khayaban-e-Jinnah after prominent social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi.