Several acid attack survivors were detained by the Delhi Police outside the Parliament on Thursday as they gathered to protest against “the lack of any safeguards and laws seeking their active rehabilitation.”
Rupa and Laxmi, both acid attack survivors, alleged that the police instead of listening to their voices, beat them up along with other volunteers. “We were sitting outside the Parliament peacefully, but nobody bothered to listen to us. The police then dragged us and took us to the police station where three of our volunteers were locked up in a room and thrashed with lathis for 10 minutes,” said the 24-year-old Laxmi, who survived an acid attack in 2005.
Acid attack survivors have launched a campaign called ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ on Facebook to raise awareness on the plight of acid attack victims.
Social activist Alok Dixit, who was also present at the spot, said Rupa and Laxmi had fainted as the police snatched their cell phones and behaved badly with other volunteers. “We asked them for a medical test, but the police behaved badly with us and said, ‘Tum humara kya ukhar loge (What can you possibly do to us?),” said Dixit.
The survivors have demanded budget allocations to provide for cosmetic surgeries and training for hospital staff. In response to a PIL filed by Laxmi in 2006, the SC had directed the government to ban over-the-counter sale of acid. However, protesters maintain that acid is still very easily available in the capital.
Laxmi said acid attack survivors’ agenda was only to apprise the authorities on the lack of any concrete steps for their rehabilitation. Access to proper treatment is still a struggle, she added.
“We wanted fast track courts for speedy justice, free medical check-ups, stringent laws to check easy availability of acid in medical stores, job opportunities etc. But sadly, nothing has happened till now. Instead of listening, the police harassed and detained us.”
Reacting to charges of police atrocity, Harish Yati, an inspector with the Delhi Police, defended police’ action on ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ Facebook page saying, “There’s nothing wrong as far as police behaviour is concerned. He is simply asking for personal details for which he is duty bound rather the activists are taunting at him. This is just pseudo sympathy to get cheap popularity by maligning police. We, the policemen are very much rather more sensitive than you people towards the victims of the acid attack. They are our sisters and daughters.”
Currently, the state governments pay Rs 3 lakh to acid attack victims and under the scheme, the Centre could pay more. As per current estimates, there are around 3 lakh shopkeepers who are selling acids.