A year after a class 12 student in Dwarka faced an acid attack by an alleged stalker and suffered burn injury, the family members are satisfied with how the case is progressing and the safety provided to them. However, they still fear the accused getting out on bail.
On December 14 last year, the girl was attacked by two bikeborne men at Verma Chowk, half a kilometre from her house, while she was going to school with her sister. Three people — Sachin Arora, 20, Harshit Agarwal, 19, and Virender Singh, 22 — were arrested in the case and currently are in jail.
“The first three months after the incident were very tough but by the grace of God all is well now. The case is going on in Dwarka court and all three accused are still in jail,” said 45-year-old Kapil Sikka, the victim’s father.
Sikka, a property dealer, who lives with wife and three children in the colony on rent, recalled the incident.
“Both sisters went to school as part of their daily routine. After five minutes, the younger one came crying, and saying that something has happened to didi (older sister). I rushed to the spot and took her to a nearby hospital. They referred her to Safdarjung Hospital. She was admitted to the hospital for 15 days but now she has recovered completely,” he said.
“They threw acid on her face. Her eyes did not open for 15 days but all is well now. There is no sign left on her face, so we are very happy.”
Her daughter passed class 12 with over 80% marks after the incident and is currently pursuing B.A. (LLB) from a college.
“We stood by her and gave positive vibes. So, she recovered and continued her studies. Sometimes her eyes hurt during studies,” said Sikka.
The victim is grateful to her family for supporting her. “We need to be strong during these times. My parents and friends have supported me throughout. I face no safety problems and am living my life and studying safely. I want to be a lawyer,” said the victim who was at her school when Patriot visited her home and later spoke over the phone. Out of the three convicted, one was her neighbour.
Asked to compromise
“The family of the accused tried to compromise through a middleman but I refused. The case has been heard on three dates. The judge will call our young daughter on the next date, which is in January,” said Sikka.
“Our society and police also completely supported us in this case. Police asked us if we needed security. But there was no need. I have also got compensation.”
Sikka says that if the accused manage to get bail, the family will have to relocate.
“Now the accused are behind bars but if they get bail, we will think about relocating. The lawyer, however, has assured us said that there is no chance of bail and they will get at least 10 years in prison or life imprisonment,” added Sikka.
“We still live in fear. When she goes to college, we often call her to enquire about her return? Ghabrahat to hoti hai,” said Sapna, her mother.
According to the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2022, released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi is still a dangerous city for women. The data shows that cases against women have doubled in the national capital.
Five acid attack cases against women were recorded in 2022 besides three attempted attacks. Bharat Bhushan, one of the prime witnesses, who has been running a grocery shop on Verma Chowk — site of the incident — for over a decade, had saved the girl then.
“It was around 7:20 in the morning. I was just opening my shop when I heard her cry. I went there with another shopkeeper and threw water on her face,” he recalled to Patriot.
“We asked her for family contact but she couldn’t speak. Her younger sister ran home and informed the family. A heavy crowd gathered and after some time, her father rushed her to the hospital. They had run away after throwing acid. One out of the three people had been stalking her regularly,” he added.
Bhushan said that since it was the first such incident, security was tightened for a while before returning to what it was before. Two more people near the site also said that there has been no extra effort in security.
Ramesh Kaul, president of the Resident Welfare Association (RWA), Rama Park, said, “There is no problem here and in the last one year, no incident has happened. There has been no security problem for the family of the survivor.”
The police said that the accused had confessed to buying acid from Flipkart. Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women, admitted that the sale of acid cannot be restricted to prevent such heinous crimes. Although acid isn’t available on Flipkart currently, neighbourhood shops keep them.
Acid attack cases, however, continue to plague the Capital. The fear of Sikka isn’t unfounded considering the acid attack case last week. On December 7, a 54-year-old rape accused threw acid at a 17-year-old girl in central Delhi before drinking it himself. The incident happened in front of the girl’s house in Anand Parbat. The accused was undergoing trial for rape.
According to police, the accused Prem Singh was on interim bail and had threatened the girl with consequences if the rape case filed by her mother was not withdrawn. When the girl and her mother refused to budge, he threw acid on the former and drank it himself too. Though he died during treatment, the girl has been discharged from hospital with minor burn injury.