The year 2014 saw a never-before 309 acid attack incidents being reported from across the country. This is almost 300 per cent more than the average number of such cases witnessed during the preceding three years.
The years 2011, 2012 and 2013 witnessed 83, 85 and 66 cases being reported respectively, but this number shot up to 309 in 2014 – almost four times the average number of acid attack cases in the preceding years.
The alarming statistics came to light following a meeting convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 14, where representatives from the Centre and state governments adduced the data for a compilation, with the aid of the National Crime Records Bureau.
This meeting was held in accordance with an order by the Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court in the course of hearing PILs on acid attack cases. The Bench, comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Uday U Lalit, had directed the Centre to convene a meeting and file a comprehensive affidavit on the number of acid attack cases apart from the mechanism for treatment, compensation and rehabilitation of the victims. It will hear the case Friday.
The charts submitted by the government in its affidavit have described the data for 2014 as provisional but it is certain that the number of cases could only go up as the exact break-up of cases in each state and UT is given.
Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 185 cases till November 2014, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 53 cases. Among the seven UTs, acid attack cases were reported only from Delhi, which witnessed 27 such cases last year.
The number of persons arrested is only 208 as against 309 cases reported. While in UP there were no arrests in at least 66 cases, in Delhi only 7 persons were arrested in 27 cases. In the preceding three years 336 persons were arrested in total 234 cases.
The meeting also delved on the reasons for acid attacks and relied upon a study conducted by the National Commission for Women. The chief reasons cited included attacks as a punishment or revenge, or over personal enmity. Out of the 25 cases studied, majority were by spurned suitors. But in three cases the husbands used acid on wives.
The affidavit informed the Bench that the authorities have resolved to tighten law enforcement by immediately lodging an FIR, besides making sure the victims get immediate treatment and no hospital can refuse treatment citing lack of specialised facilities.
For disbursal of the court-mandated Rs 3 lakh to a victim, representatives from the Centre and state governments have agreed to issue requisite orders and notifications to accord the aid for covering variety of expenses.
It was also suggested that this money could be replenished by fines from the convicts and the amount could also be transferred from prisoners’ wages. The states could be impressed upon to notify acid as a scheduled substance to stop its over the counter sale.