Encouraged by the local district legal service authority (DLSA), a 30-year-old victim of acid attack has mustered courage to fight for justice after four years of the incident.
A man with his face covered with cloth had thrown acid on Shabnam (name changed to maintain her privacy) here on November 19, 2009.
Originally a resident of Delhi, Shabnam blames her former employee for hatching a conspiracy to victimise her after she repeatedly turned down his offers to establish relationship with him.
Her face and chest are badly disfigured and the doctors have predicted a long medical treatment.
Shabnam's statement was recorded by secretary DLSA and the inspector of the city police station here on Thursday.
"The acid attack left me blind in eye while I could barely see anything from other eye. While I struggled hard in all these years, the Panipat police, where a first information report (FIR) was lodged, did nothing in all these years to help me," Shabnam told Hindustan Times over phone on Saturday from her house in Delhi.
When asked why she took four years to name the perpetrators of the attack, she blamed the police for being indifferent toward her.
"A day after acid attack, a team of policemen met me at ICU of Apollo hospital in Delhi and asked general questions about the incident. Later, in January 2010 they came to get information on my medical treatment and no effort was made to counsel me or know if I recall anything about the attack," she alleged.
Shabnam married Arshad Khan of Delhi against the wishes of her family in 2007 and two years later shifted to Panipat in search of a livelihood.
"I got job of counsler at Gain College, which was an authorized study center of a technical university. I maintained a cordial relationship with my employer Yashwinder Malik but gradually I noticed that Malik became obsessive about me," she alleged.
Victim alleged that she was physically assaulted by Malik on several occasions and she joined another other institute in the city.
Malik allegedly with the help of his friends abducted her and forced her to join back his office, she alleged in her statements to DLSA and the police.
"When finally I decided to leave the job, he conspired to kill me. As I stepped out of Gain College on the evening of November 19, 2009, Malik was following me. In the meantime, someone came with a tumbler full of acid at threw on me and I fell unconscious. Though his face was covered, image of the acid thrower is still clear in my mind," she said.
Mustered courage: Shabnam's father is a polio patient and the entire family depends upon her brother.
"After the Nirbhaya gangrape case that rocked the nation, I learnt about the provisions of compensation to the victims and contacted the helpline of women in distress to get support for my expensive treatment," she said.
Delhi chief minister Sheela Dixit granted a compensation of Rs 50,000 in July this year and her case was referred to Haryana State Legal Service Authority (HSLSA) and subsequently it reached to the Panipat DLSA to award compensation on October 15.
"One day I got a telephone call from secretary DLSA Parminder Kaur, who is also the chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Panipat to discuss my case of compensation. As in the FIR there was no reference of the accused, Kaur encouraged to come with truth and name the accused," she said.
Shabnam claims that within days of the acid attack her husband left her.
"After this shaking incident, I had lost all my confidence but a word of advice and support by Kaur infused confidence in me. Though I apprehend a grave threat from Malik, I am determined to fight with the support of DSLA," she said.
Meanwhile, the city police station SHO Vishal Kumar said that the police had taken the case on the top priority and the accused would be arrested by Monday.
"It is an old case and I cannot comment much. Owing to the sensitivity of the case, our teams are investigating on the priority basis," he said.