Acid attackers found guilty

Over eight years of trial, a court in Srinagar convicted two persons in connection with the “horrific case of vitriolage, where a young girl of around 20 years of age, who was studying law at the time, had acid thrown at her face out of jealousy and envious possessiveness.”

These kinds of the horrendous act have been rightly described as worse than murder. It is scarring physically and emotionally for life to the victim.

Many of the survivors suffer from severe mental trauma as they are shunned due to their disfigurement. Jobs are not easy to get as appearances matter to many employers. Even homes on rent are denied to survivors.

The acid attack is an assault on the collective conscience of the society. No words of condemnation will suffice.   The attack like this or those which surfaced later on also shows how imperfect the sale of the acid is in Jammu and Kashmir.

Concentrated acid sold is relatively cheap and can be accessed through a variety of informal sector users. It is this ease of access that is spurring attacks. A system of licensing all transactions involving acid must therefore be introduced quickly. This would undoubtedly cover a wide range of users, including garment dyeing, rubber curing, leather, and gold purification, but the horrific suffering of acid attack victims makes some form of regulation essential. The retail sale of this off-the-shelf chemical, which is sometimes also used in suicide attempts, can safely be banned because less corrosive alternatives are available. For effective enforcement, though, it is essential to institute a document trail from production to point of sale.

As per the Supreme Court of India directions whenever an FIR is lodged in an acid attack case, the SDM of the area concerned will hold inquiry into the procurement of acid by the “wrongdoer”.

The court has ordered that the acid attack victims shall be paid compensation by the government concerned as an after-care and rehabilitation cost for such victims. The government is expected to continue with the efforts that all the victims are compensated adequately and provide with all the means to lead their life with any reliance, let alone dependency, on others.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has done its part by ensuring that attackers are convicted. The court is expected to award appropriate punishment to the accused, taking into account various factors, later this week.

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