Taking up cudgels against the sale of acid in open market, acid attack survivors have decided to check the menace themselves.
A ‘Shoot Acid’ campaign has been launched from Uttar Pradesh, which is home to a large number of acid attack survivors.
As part of the campaign, the survivors are visiting various general stores where acid is being openly sold. They are collecting video evidences of the sale, to be submitted to the district magistrates.
“Uttar Pradesh is a state that has taken a lead in ensuring rehabilitation and free medical aid for survivors. Sale of acid is something that has remained unchecked. I have written to the chief minister and have requested him to support our campaign. We are collecting evidences and expect action from the government,” said Laxmi, an acid attack survivor who is leading the campaign.
Through their Facebook page, survivors are inviting people to share videos or pictures exposing the free sale of acid in their areas.
“It has been three days now that the campaign has started and we have over 15 evidences of free sale of acid in various residential and market areas. There seems to be no check at all on the sale of acid,” said Alok Dixit, Laxmi’s partner and leading member of the campaign.
To begin with, the campaign has kicked off in Kanpur and would gradually be expanded to other parts of the state.
“We talked to the district magistrate regarding our campaign in Kanpur and it was welcomed. The DM has promised us that action would be taken. All the samples and evidences that we collect will be submitted to the district magistrate to ensure that action is taken against the shopkeepers who sell acid. This would create fear in the minds of shopkeepers and result in check on free sale,” said Alok.
According to a Supreme Court order of 2013, sale of acid is allowed only by a licensed trader and it should not be sold to a person below 18 years.
As per norms, the seller is also required to “ascertain before selling any poison, the name, telephone and address of the purchaser and the purpose for which the poison is purchased”. All stocks of acid must be declared by the seller with the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) concerned within 15 days. In case of undeclared stock of acid, it will be open to the SDM concerned to confiscate it and suitably impose a fine on such seller which could be up to Rs 50,000. The SDM concerned may impose a fine up to Rs 50,000 on any person who commits breach of any of the above directions.
However, none of the norms were being followed, alleged Alok and his team members.
UP’s DUBIOUS DISTINCTION
As per the latest data from the national crime record bureau (NCRB), acid attack cases have witnessed a rise of over 9% in the country, in the last one year. The maximum cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh.
According to NCRB, a total of 222 incidents were reported in the country, out of which 55 were reported in UP alone. This second place in this list of shame has been bagged by West Bengal, where 39 incidents were reported. New Delhi stood third with 21 incidents in 2015.
While the total number of acid attacks was marginally lower in 2014, the ranking of states remains the same. According to the 2014 report, 203 acid attacks were reported and UP took the lead with 42 incidents, followed by West Bengal, which saw 39 cases. In Delhi, 20 incidents were reported in 2014, as per the report.
As expected, many of these attacks affected more than a single person. In 2015, while 222 incidents were reported, there were 249 victims. In addition, 46 attempted acid attacks also happened in the same year. In UP, where 55 incidents impacted 61 lives, 11 attempted acid attacks were reported.
“The trend of acid attack has certainly witnessed a rise. A look at incidents across the country highlights that these attacks are not just limited to women attacked by jilted lovers and husbands. Acid is being used among men to settle personal rivalries too,” said Alok Dixit, a leading member of ‘Stop Acid Attack’ – a countrywide campaign.
As per NCRB, 15 acid attacks were reported in Bihar, 14 each in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, 10 in Haryana, seven each in Kerala and Maharashtra, eight each in Odisha and Tamil Nadu, four each in Tripura and Gujarat, three in Assam and one each in Telangana and Rajasthan. Pleasantly, there are several places in the country where no incidents were reported in 2015.