Milan Mamachan is pursuing Mass Communication (3rd year) from IP University. He is interested in reading novels, wants to travel as much as possible and pursue a doctorate.
THE FUMES OF ACID ATTACKS – Milan Mamachan
Defining Acid Attack
Acid attack is the act of throwing of acid or similar harmful substance on other’s body with the motive to kill or disfigure. Perpetrators of these attacks throw corrosive liquids at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones.
Acid attacks in India
In India, every year the cases of acid attacks being reported are higher in comparison to other countries around the globe. In India, in most of such cases, the victim is a woman. According to the stats between the years 2000 and 2010, 72% of the cases included female victims. Every year, more than 50 cases are reported from different parts of India. A considerable number of cases are not even reported. It is noted that the majority of such cases are being reported from north India.
Who is to be blamed?
In these statistics, the main reason behind these attacks included some romantic angle whilst some cases included religious angle. But at the root of such crimes is the skewed mentality and uncontrolled rage of the perpetrator.
In India, the punishments on an acid attack are based on section 326 A of the Indian Penal Code. It includes a punishment of a minimum of 10 years which can be extended to imprisonment for life with a fine.
Strict laws into the punishment came with Supreme Court’s ruling on July 16, 2013, came after an incident in which four sisters suffered severe burns after being attacked with acid by two men on a motorbike. The acid that is designed to clean rusted tools is often used in the attacks can be bought across the counter. The judges stated that in the future, the buyer of such acids shall provide a photo identity card to any retailer while making the purchase. The retailers must register the name and address of the buyer.
The acid attacks can prove to be lethal. While there were many cases in the early 2000s, the number of survivors was very less. In many cases, the victims committed suicide. It can be said that the case of Laxmi Aggarwal inspired the survivors to live their lives and come forward to fight this heinous activity.
Laxmi Aggarwal was attacked in 2005 at age 15, by a 32-year-old man named Gudda and his alias Nadeem Syed whose advances she had rejected. Her story, among others, was told in a series on acid attack victims by Hindustan Times. Since then, she has advocated against acid attacks by collecting 27,000 signatures for a petition to curb acid sales and taking that cause to the Indian Supreme Court. Her petition led the Supreme Court to order the Central and State governments to regulate the sale of acid, and the Parliament to make prosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue. She has been an inspiration to many people who survived these attacks and gave hope and meaning to live their lives.
There are many survivors who are currently working in NGOs and promoting campaigns against these attacks.
Society and survivors
The large section of our society still does not accept the victims, even the family is not ready to accept the victim. There is a social stigma attached to such cases which makes it difficult for the survivor to survive in a society like ours. They have to leave their community, jobs and are even abandoned by their partners. Most of them are not even able to get a job, not able to marry and most live in poverty.
In the end, we all can agree that the acid attack is a heinous crime which deserves strict punishment. Also, it is our responsibility to support the survivors and provide them with a safe society to live in. The fumes of acid attacks are crippling our society and it’s our responsibility to fight them.
The opinions expressed are of the writer.