Saturday, 1 June 2013

An Open Letter to Home Minister of Maharashtra

Posted by Stop Acid Attacks On Saturday, June 01, 2013 No comments

To,
The Home Minister
State government of Maharashtra
India
02.06.2013

Subject: Acid attack corrodes yet another life 

Dear sir, 

We would like to draw your immediate attention towards the brutal death of Preeti Rathi, a medical student, who was targeted at the busy Bandra station on May 2 by an unknown assailant, who threw acid on her. The girl, who had just arrived in Mumbai to join the Naval Hospital as a nurse, suffered serious burns and internal injuries. It was too late by the time doctors at Masina Hospital realized her food and wind pipes were also ruptured by the acid and referred her to the Bomaby Hospital. 

Preeti passed away yesterday morning (June 1) succumbing to multiple injuries. Her parents are not accepting the body until the Maharashtra government promises regulation of acid sale in the state, announces compensation and all possible help that could be provided to the deceased's family. 
It is alarming to witness the threat women face at public places in this state, but what scares us furthermore is the absolute lack or negligent investigation and assistance provided to the deceased. It has been found that the accused arrested by the Government Railway Police (GRP) was present in another state at the time of the crime and is a friend of the victim, as claimed by the father.

We would also like to bring to your notice that apart from Preeti, there have been several reports of acid attack cases in the country, where girls have lost their organs and faces. According to a report from TOI, 56 complaints of acid attacks have been reported in the last three months. 

Thus, we would like to take this opportunity to humbly request the state government to take immediate and concrete steps to keep a check on this increasing crime against women—acid attacks. It is ironical that a young, ambitious woman like Preethi Rathi had come to this state with a dream of nurturing her career and supporting her family, but fell victim to such a gory crime upon her arrival that eventually robbed her of her life. 

As members of Stop Acid Attacks, our ultimate aim is to provide immediate help to survivors of acid attacks, as most of them lose their organs and faces and, consecutively, their zeal to live by the time justice is served through courts. Had Preeti gotten immediate and efficient medical care, she probably wouldn't have died such a miserable death.  

We sincerely hope the state government takes a lead in waking up to this increasingly prevalent crime against women and take urgent measures to ensure not only the curbing of such crimes but also provide the necessary investigative aid by entrusting the CBI with the responsibility to intervene effectively and on time. It is important to note that the sale of acid in any form has not been brought under regulation despite the Supreme Court's order asking state governments to take concrete action in this regard.  Also, another such case is currently undergoing treatment in Bombay Hospital, which is evident of the fact that use of acid for inhuman purposes are increasing at an alarming rate. 

Stop Acid Attacks has been relentlessly working on this issue and intends to carry on this campaign. And to do that, we require and need ample support from the state authorities and hope for your utmost cooperation. 

Thanking you,
Stop Acid Attacks

Our Demands:

1. Cases of Acid Attack Violence to be tried in a fast track court and proper investigation.
It is of utmost importance that these cases are dealt in fast track courts with cases of rape and assault on women. The victim needs immediate medical care and lot of expensive surgeries afterwards and still does not have the option of silently going back to their normal life; they suffer mental agony beyond imagination which is added to when the people responsible for ruining their life roam free in front of them and as a threat to them. Most of the cases go years without any conviction or proper investigation.

2. Minimum Imprisonment of 10 years u/s 326 of The Indian Penal Code,1860.
As of now, the section 326 of The Indian Penal Code,1860 states

“ Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.-- Whoever, except in the case provided for by section 335, voluntarily causes grievous hurt by means of any instrument for shooting, stabbing or cutting, or any instrument which, used as a weapon of offence, is likely to cause death, or by means of fire or any heated substance, or by means of any poison or any corrosive substance, or by means of any explosive substance, or by means of any substance which it is deleterious to the human body to inhale, to swallow, or to receive into the blood, or by means of any animal, shall be punished with 1[ imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

We demand a minimum imprisonment to be specified by the act (added as amendment to the existing section) References- Acid crime suspension act, Bangladesh. Section 29 of Offense against the person act, 1861 of UK

3. Compensation to cover medical expenses of the victim and for rehabilitation of the victim u/s 357 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.The same currently states,
“Order to pay compensation. 

(I) When a Court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence (including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part, the Court may, when passing judgment, order the whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied- 

(a) in defraying the expenses properly incurred in the prosecution; 

(b) in the payment to any person of compensation for any loss or injury caused by the offence, when compensation is, in the opinion of the Court, recoverable by such person in a Civil Court; 

(c) when any person is convicted of any offence for having caused the death of another person or of having abetted the commission of such an offence, in paying compensation to the persons who are, under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1855 (13 of 1855 ), entitled to recover damages from the person sentenced for the loss resulting to them from such death; 

(d) when any person is convicted of any offence which includes theft, criminal misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, or cheating, or of having dishonestly received or retained, or of having voluntarily assisted in disposing of, stolen property knowing or having reason to believe the same to be stolen, in compensating any bona fide purchaser of such property for the loss of the same if such property is restored to the possession of the person entitled thereto. 

(II) If the fine is imposed in a case which is subject to appeal, no such payment shall be made before the period allowed for presenting the appeal has elapsed, or, if an appeal be presented, before the decision of the appeal. 

(III) When a Court imposes a sentence, of which fine does not form a part, the Court may, when passing judgment, order the accused person to pay, by way of compensation, such amount as may be specified in the order to the person who has suffered any loss or injury by reason of the act for which the accused person has been so sentenced. 

(IV) An order under this section may also be made by an Appellate Court or by the High Court or Court of Session when exercising its powers of revision. 

(V) At the time of awarding compensation in any subsequent civil suit relating to the same matter, the Court shall take into account any sum paid or recovered as compensation under this section. 

As of now, Awarding compensation is on desecration of the judge, we suggest inclusion of the following as amendment in the same:

a) Compensation to be made mandatory, amount of the same should be sufficient to cover all the medical expenses and indemnify the victim to their previous state.

b) Government jobs to the survivor to ensure economic and social stability.

c) If no compensation was awarded in the previous cases, we demand a documented reason for the same as the act makes the victim eligible for the same.

4. At last we suggest to implement the suggestions given by  Justice AR Lakshmanan in the “The Inclusion of acid attacks as specific offenses in the Indian Penal Code and a law for Compensation for Victims of Crime”  submitted to Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for its consideration in the pending proceedings filed by Laxmi in W.P.(Crl.) No.129 of 2006.

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    About Us

    SAA is a campaign against acid violence. We work as a bridge between survivors and the society, as most of the victims of this brutal crime, which is much more grave in its impact than a rape, have isolated themselves after losing their face. Due to ignorance of the government and civil society, most survivors find no hope and stay like an outcast, in solitude. SAA aims to research and track acid attack cases and compile a data to get the actual situation of survivors.

    Our Mission

    We work with partners and stakeholders towards elimination of acid and other forms of burn violence and protection of survivors' rights. The process of justice to an acid attack victim remains incomplete until she gets immediate medical, legal and economic help, along with the critical social acceptance. Our vision is to free India from this crime, which reflects the flaws of our patriarchal society and abusive attitudes. We want survivors to have access to fast justice and fight back the irreparable impact of this crime.

    Support Us

    Any amount you can donate to us, no matter how small, will be very gratefully received and put to good use helping acid and burns violence survivors. Your help could help pay for dressings and medical supplies for recuperating patients. A small help could help survivors with vital physical rehabilitation after an attack, including physical therapy and nursing.

    Click this link to donate for a good cause.

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    We welcome all the volunteers to come forward and join us in our camping and contribute in whatever way possible. Please visit the Join Us page for more details.