A 22-year-old college teacher sustained severe burn injuries on her back and legs after two motorcycle-borne assailants allegedly threw acid on her in Bhopal on Saturday, underscoring the easy availability of the corrosive liquid despite court restrictions on its sale.
The State Women Commission sought a report from police on the incident which came six months after another woman faced a similar acid attack in Madhya Pradesh’s capital city.
Police said the incident took place in the morning when Shailja Namdeo was on her way to work at the polytechnic college.
The two assailants – one with the face covered and another clad in a burqa – stopped her to ask for directions in the posh Arera Colony.
The victim, however, managed to turn her face the other way when she saw the burqa-clad attacker take out a bottle. The acid hit her hands, back and legs, police said, adding that she received “minute injuries” on her forehead.
The woman managed to run back to the private hostel where she stays. The hostel-owner rushed her to the Narmada Hospital where her condition is stated to be stable.
The women told police in a statement that she suspected someone of following her for the past three days but had not paid any attention to the possible stalking.
Habibganj police official CM Dwivedi said a bottle suspected to have been left behind by the assailants has been from the spot.
He, however, said the bottle did not contain normal acid which is banned but distilled water used in batteries.
“We are checking CCTV footages and call details to nab the accused,” he added.
Home minister Babulal Gaur, member of parliament Alok Sanjar, MLA Surendra Nath Singh and MP Youth Congress president Kunal Chaudhary visited the victim at the hospital.
MP Youth Congress staged demonstrations overt the attack and also burnt an effigy of the home minister.
“Police are trying to downplay the case by calling it acid of a battery. It was surely an acid, which is being sold in the market openly without any check,” Chaudhary said.
He said the government failed to stop “open sale of acid” despite promising action after the previous incident in the Ashoka Garden area.
Acid attack was made a separate category of crime in 2013 amid growing incidents of revenge on women who had spurned sexual advances or rejected marriage proposals.
The courts have promised free medical treatment and the government has moved to stop the free sale of acid but such attacks continue unabated, a fact brought out by women who boldly spoke out against the practice in an award-winning series Stop Acid Attacks by HT in 2013.