When 22-year-old bride Harpreet Kaur entered a salon in Ludhiana on December 2 to get her bridal make-up, little did her family expect that she would fall prey to a feud in the groom’s family and that they would lose her in a few weeks’ time.
According to reports, two men barged into the salon and threw acid on Harpreet. She was later taken to Mumbai and after battling for 20 days, Harpreet breathed her last on December 27 because the damage to her internal organs were too deep.
Who should we blame for Harpreet’s death: the conspirators or the state government that has not been able to implement the July 14 order of the Supreme Court (SC) which banned the unauthorised sale of acid? While some of the conspirators/attackers have been arrested and will face the legal consequences, the Punjab government cannot wash its hands off Harpreet’s death.
In November, four months after the SC order, when the court asked the states about their progress in curbing acid sale, this is what the central government had to say: only one of the seven Union Territories (Pondicherry) and 28 states has complied with the SC directives.
Concerned at the non-compliance, the Bench re-issued its directions and ordered state chief secretaries and administrators of Union Territories to comply with its order by March 31, 2014.
Between the July order and the November hearing, 20 attacks have taken place. Unfortunately, none of the survivors have got any compensation. Victims and activists also say that the Rs. 3 lakh compensation that the SC ordered for victims cannot cover their medical costs; on an average, they need about Rs. 25-30 lakh for several corrective surgeries. Even in the Ludhiana case, the family has got only Rs. 1 lakh as compensation from the state that too only after 20 days.
On December 27, police manhandled and arrested activists of Stop Acid Attacks who were demonstrating in front of the home ministry for faster implementation of the SC order.
Instead of shooting the messenger, the home ministry must use its powers to push the states to quickly implement the guidelines so that precious lives can be saved.