Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Laxmi- A Warrior behind recent judgement of Supreme Court on curbing Acid Attack

Laxmi, survivor-turned-evangelist. Photo: Arun Gopalan

She was just 15 when criminals made her a  victims of acid attack. Her arms, face and other body parts were disfigured in the acid attack. Her life got completely ruined. It was all very easy for her attackers—they purchased acid from a general store. Sadly, criminals have easy access to acid even today. Recently, such acid attacks have gone up, girls are dying and those who survive wait for their death to come. But, Laxmi is determined to fight and make lives of other girls a bit less dangerous.

Responding to her PIL, The Supreme Court  slammed the Centre for not being "serious" about framing policy to curb the sale of acid in order to prevent acid attacks cases. A bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said that people are dying every day due to acid attacks but the Centre has failed to frame a scheme despite assurance given by it on the last hearing on April 16.

It is because of the efforts of Laxmi that the plight and struggle of acid victim has come to the fore. Her struggle forced government to rethink on this issue in totality. New clause has been added to IPC which deals with acid attacks. Convict can now be sentenced to 10-years imprisonment.

Laxmi is not well, needs treatment, and her father passed away eight months back. If that was not all, her brother is suffering with TB and undergoing treatment which requires her mother to be with him.

In the present situation, she is the sole bread-earner for the family. She can't afford to pay for her treatment. But despite all these hurdles, she is always present in the court during the case hearing. She has one goal—unregulated sales of acid should be banned and it should not be available in the open market.

Finally The Supreme Court of India passed an interim order on regulating the sale of acid at retail outlets in markets across the country. The court has also ordered a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to be paid by the state governments to each acid attack victim. As an Acid attack Survivor I welcome this decision. After a long struggle of Acid attack survivors, finally some rule has come in place to curb this menace. However I am still skeptical if the state governments will implement this rule in a stringent way. This should not become one of those laws that remain on paper but are not implemented in practice. If implemented in a proper way this law will definitely help reduce acid attacks if not eliminate them completely. The culprits who now escape so easily after ruining the lives of innocent girls could at least be traced.

Laxmi Said on this judgement :- “I welcome the judgement for regulating the acid sale but I am a bit disappointed by the compensation amount being directed. The initial treatment cost itself exceed Rs 15 lacks. Then there is the recurring cost of reconstructive surgeries and medicines. Rs 3 lack is too little to cover the expenses of hapless victims. What I demand is that state should adopt the acid survivors and should compensate them with all the Treatment/Medical costs, Legal assistance and Rehabilitation. After they recover from initial treatment state should guarantee a source of income by providing them with employment as per their capacity.

Honorable Supreme Court has shown us a ray of hope to live a better life and I hope that the government will also come forward and curb this menace for once and for all.”

She has dare to change and she does. We Indian Salute the efforts of Laxmi.