Eight years after she became a victim of an acid attack, Laxmi talks about her fight for justice with Hindustan Times.
Can you please take us back to the day of crime?
It happened on 22 April, 2005 was around 10.45am. I was going to a book shop in Khan Market New Delhi. As I was crossing the road, the attackers came from behind, pushed me, threw acid on my face and ran away. I was in excruciating pain but no one came to my help. At that moment Arun Singh who is Sonia Gandhi’s driver was passing by. He was the only one who helped me. He threw some water on me and called the PCR.
What happened after that?
I had to spend almost two-and-a-half months at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, where I underwent two surgeries. After that, I was shifted to Apollo, where I underwent five surgeries. I couldn’t speak, see and eat anything for three months.
Did you receive any help from the government in terms of compensation?
My family has spent more than Rs 10 lakh on my surgeries. I had to go through seven operations. It has been 8 years but I have never received any help from government or any NGO. Ever since my father passed away last year, we have been struggling to make both ends meet.
How did your friends, acquaintances and the society in general react?
The one thing that I have realised after the incident is that for society, victims don’t exist. Where ever I go, I am seen as the perpetrator. It’s as if I am at fault for what happened to me. People don’t see me as a victim, they see me as a criminal. Friends stopped talking; their parents feared that someone might do the same to them.
How hard was it to continue schooling?
It was very difficult, but somehow I managed to complete my higher secondary. I got myself enrolled in senior secondary certificate (SSC) course. I am also taking course in dress making, tailoring and computers.
Do you ever think about your attackers?
My attackers were out on a bail within one month of the incident. One of them even got married while he was on bail. Sometimes I ask god why those people, get to lead a normal life, while I have to live with trauma for my entire life.
It has been 8 years since the incident took place. What took you so long to reach out to the media?
I always thought that I would be reduced to a TV serial. I never thought that media would actually help me.
When you had filed a PIL in 2006, what was going in your mind and what are your expectations now?
At that moment, all that I thought was that if the use of onion and garlic can be prohibited in temples, then why can’t we do something about acid, which can destroy people’s lives. If the court can’t ban its use, it should try to put some restrictions on its sales.
(As told to Mohit Sharma)