Four acid attack cases have been reported in Madhya Pradesh over the past week, but the state government has done nothing to crack down on the sale of the chemical, activists said.
The latest incident has taken place in Rewa district, where a teacher was sent to jail on Thursday for allegedly throwing acid on an 18-year-old girl. The girl, fortunately, escaped unhurt.
Social activists are blaming the government and officials for failing to curb the sale of acid despite a Supreme Court order, which makes it mandatory for buyers to show identity cards while buying the chemical.
But, GS Dhurve, the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of state capital Bhopal, said he was not aware of any such guideline.
Maya Awasthi, the SDM of Huzur in Bhopal district, said she did not have any instruction on curbing the sale of acid. "I joined the office a few days ago and I don't have any instructions on checking acid sale."
Alok Dixit, founder of non-governmental organisation Stop Acid Attack, on the other hand, held the administration responsible for the recent cases.
"It's a serious issue that four acid attacks have taken place within a week in Madhya Pradesh. Administrative officials are responsible for these attacks.
"If the government and administrative officials have failed to curb the sale of acid in the state capital, how can we expect any action in other cities of the state?" he said.
The acid attack in Rewa comes close on the heels of a group of youngsters throwing acid on another group in the same town. Kirtidev Singh, 22, lost vision in one eye and some others were injured.
Besides, Harda and Bhopal have reported similar cases. A youngster threw acid on another on Wednesday after a heated argument in Harda. A schoolteacher from Bhopal has also alleged she was subjected to acid attack on the orders of the school's chairperson.
According to activists, despite such cases, acid is being sold in shops flouting the SC guidelines. Anyone can buy an acid bottle for Rs 20 or Rs 25 without producing any identity card or mentioning the reason for purchasing the chemical.
The SC in July 2013 had directed state governments to make over-the-counter sale of acid conditional. It had also made it mandatory for the sellers to maintain a log/register of the buyers of acid.