An acid attack turned the start of a bride's dream day into her biggest nightmare on Saturday here.
Barnala's Harpreet Kaur (24), who was getting beauty treatment for the function, was scarred forever in seconds, and two beauticians and another bride were also injured. The mystery masked attacker took advantage of the administration's failure to check the open sale of acid.
Gone in 13 seconds
Bride Harpreet Kaur suffered more than 60% burns on the face, chest and abdomen. Her skin peeled off immediately and she was moved to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, where her condition is critical. The culprit left a note addressed to her in Punjabi that he was in love with her for the past three years and couldn't let her marry someone else. "He barged in and was gone in 13 seconds," said Navita Goel, owner of Lakme Salon, scene of the crime in the posh Sarabha Nagar locality.
"At 8.40am, he came in and asked for Harpreet Kaur on the pretext of handing over a packet to her. She was about to take the packet when he threw acid on her face and got away in a Maruti zen car," said Navita. The acid also spilled on beauticians Geeta and Amarjit Kaur, who were doing Harpreet's makeup, and another bride getting ready at the same time, who was discharged, later, after first aid.
The salon's surveillance camera captured the attack. The attacker's getaway car had Bathinda registration-number and four other men sitting inside, Navita has told police, who registered a case under Section 326-B (throwing acid) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and apprehended a suspect whose name they didn't disclose, as the investigation is in progress.
Attacker called groom's family
The victim, Harpreet Kaur, was engaged to a man of Doraha near Ludhiana and was to marry him later in the day. The groom is settled in Kolkata, and his relatives said they knew Harpreet was being threatened, as the attacker would call them as well.
Deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Harsh Kumar Bansal, additional DCP (city-3) Joginder Singh and assistant commissioner of police (west) Gurpreet Kaur Purewal inspected the scene of crime. "A manhunt for the accuse is on," said the DCP, adding that police were studying the surveillance-camera footage.
As per the Supreme Court ruling, a process is on to pay the victim a compensation of Rs. 3-lakh, of which Rs. 1 lakh will be handed over in 15 days, deputy commissioner Rajat Aggarwal has stated. "The state has to finalise strategy against acid attacks and check the easy availability of acid," he said.
Life in danger
The victim's burns are very serious and life-threatening, Dr Sanjiv Uppal, head of the department of plastic surgery at the DMCH, has confirmed. "The face, chest and abdomen were burnt in the attack. The recovery in these cases is near to impossible, and especially a new face can't be created in acid-burn cases," he said.
Union minister condemns attack
Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Manish Tewari on Saturday condemned the acid attack on a bride in a beauty parlour in his parliamentary constituency and sought exemplary punishment for the culprites.
In a statement issued here, Tewari also expressed concern over the way the accused had managed to barge into the beauty parlour, throw acid on people, made escape. "This has caused a sense of fear among people," he said.
Calling for quick arrest of the culprits, the minister said people such as them deserved no mercy. Expressing sympathies with the victim's family, he hoped for her complete and speedy recovery.