SHAINA SHARMA | JALANDHAR
Acid attack is a vitriol crime, involving the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body, with the intention of disfigure, torture, revenge or murder. An acid attack can leave the victim with burning faces, damaging tissues, often exposing, sometimes damaging bones, even leading to permanent blindness and leaving a mark of tort which never gets out of mind.
Why…Why me? This is what comes to the mind of an acid attack survivor. Laxmi Agarwal is an acid attack survivor and a campaigner for rights of acid victims. It was because of her only that the issue of acid attack came into notice and a strict action was taken. Recently, the movie ‘Chhapaak’, which is mainly based on her afterlife of the acid attack has released. The film talks about, how she fought, won and succeeded in leading one of her petitions in the Supreme Court about the regulation of the sale of acid.
However, there are plethora of cases like Laxmi in India. According to the data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2014 to 2018 there have been 1,483 victims of acid attacks in the country. Which means that India has seen almost 1,500 acid attacks in the last five years.
Another such story is of Daljeet Kaur of Punjab. Here is a part of interaction done with her.
What’s your story?
Ans:- After completing 12th standard, I thought of studying privately and joined Apex Hospital at Nadala in October 2009. It became a routine of going to the hospital at eight in the morning and returning back to home at five in the evening. I was allotted alternate weeks of day shift and night shift. I used to travel with only one particular bus called SHUBHAM (green color).
On January 10, 2010 when I reached hospital, I saw a man running and thought he has someone close admitted in the hospital that’s why he’s in a hurry. Suddenly he came near and splashed acid on me. In shock and pain, I tried to run away from him but he grabbed me strongly and again poured acid on me.
My condition was devastating but somehow I took myself to the hospital, the staff gathered and started my treatment immediately. I filed a case but the police was not able to trace the criminals. Even after one year, the criminals were nowhere to be found.
Then I took my case to the high court and pleaded to transfer my case to the police of any other district. My case was transferred to the Jalandhar police. After that, criminals were found and arrested, in May 2011. As the case was investigated, a shocking revelation came in that the attacker had to pour acid on some other girl, who used to travel through the same bus and I was mistaken as that girl.
I guess it was my bad luck that day, that I was at the wrong place in the wrong time. However, be it me or any other girl this was a crime that can’t be forgiven.
Whom do you blame for this?
Ans:- I clearly blame system for this. Why acid is available so easily, in the market? If there would have been rigid rules about sale of acid, then survivors like me could have been saved.
How difficult was it to restart your life?
Ans:- Yes, it was very difficult but I never lost hope. My parents were the major reason that I held on hope. They’ve always been there for me.
In such cases many victims lose motivation in life and sit at home, pitying themselves. How did you motivate yourself?
Ans:- My parents are my motivation, infact they are everything for me. If they haven’t helped or supported me then I might not be standing here alive.
Mention those people who supported you at every step in your life and especially in this case.
Ans:- Ofcourse, my parents. They’ve been through this journey, with me.
Any message for every girl and Acid Attack Survivors?
Ans:- I just want to say that they have poured acid on our face not on our dreams. So don’t ever let yourself down. Be a fighter and always stand for yourself.
Anything you want to say about movie Chhapaak?
Ans:- I’m going to watch the movie tomorrow, in Chandigarh. Thanks a lot to them, that they have thought of raising this issue in their film. I hope, that people will now get to know the suffering of acid attack survivors like me, through this movie.
Another victim like Lakshmi, Ruby had to pay for rejecting a psycho lover.
It was December 8, 2011, her birthday, when she was attacked by Manjeet Singh with acid in her village Marauli Kalan, near Mohali. This crime followed when Inderjeet Kaur (Ruby) rejected Manjeet’s marriage proposal. The acid attack brought her life to a standstill. Not just her skin, Ruby lost her eyesight too. However, all this could not hamper her will power. After the attack she fought a long battle against acid attacks. Her persistence pushed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana high court which led to the formulation of policies providing financial assistance to the survivors in both states.
Now, at the age of 30, this brave heart is working as a clerk in Canara Bank, Delhi office. Though, her fight was not an easy one at all. Except her mother, no other relative, not even her brother supported her in the fight against the perpetrators. She had to leave her studies and bear the brunt of the attack for a long time. The villagers in her vicinity passed comments on her like she is a burden on her family and society. Ruby was socially isolated as if she was the criminal.
Then, she decided to join National Institute for Visually Handicapped in Dehradun. Prior to the attack, Ruby had planned to complete MA and PhD and then work for a private company. But after the ordeal, she decided to unfurl a whole new opportunity in her life. She learned about reading techniques using audio recordings and eventually, she graduated in it. Since then, she started off with competitive banking service examinations and she finally cleared the test in her third attempt in June 2018. She was then selected for the visually impaired category and was posted in Delhi.
If you think only one community or gender is targeted, then you are totally wrong. There are many more cases like – Pragya Singh, Daulat Bi Khan, Anmol Rodriguez, Chandrahass Mishra and Firoz Khan, who have been attacked for lending a helping hand. Some were attacked for rejecting marriage proposals like Laxmi and Ruby and some were attacked for the mistaken identity like Daljeet Kaur. Some were punished for being from lower cast and some for just being a girl.
It’s a high time to break your silence because #AbLadnaHai
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