I am living in hell and I will probably continue to do so for the rest of my life. I have difficulty in speaking since doctors had to construct my lips by grafting skin from other areas of my body.
But I realised later that disfiguring of my face was only the beginning of a long and frustrating journey that I and my family had to pass through, and still do.
Healing my physical and mental trauma was not my family’s only worry. I am the oldest of five siblings and the fact that a man had been stalking his eldest daughter and making ‘advances at her’ was nothing short of a nightmare for my father. He knew well that instead of abhorring the dastardly act of Yashpal, the society will only smear his daughter’s character. It was nothing out of the ordinary for a father in an Indian household with three daughters to marry off.
In 2007, a sessions court held Yashpal guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Delivering the verdict, the judge said, “The act of the convict has destroyed a life ... This act cannot be forgiven and any compensation to the victim cannot be enough.”
The court also directed the state government to pay compensation to my family but that was the last we heard of it. Justice, came swiftly, but only from the court.
The court verdict brought in focus my agony and the media was quick to jump on the ‘juicy story’.They all wanted to report my story; my pain and agony, and the irreparable loss my family suffered.
Officials from the Delhi Commission for Women visited me and assured my father of all help. They took me to an eye hospital. The doctors examined me and said I could be cured. Do not lose hope, they told me. In my head, I saw a ray of hope for the first time and I thought I may not have to spend my entire life in a room without a view. I felt rejuvenated. I used to think my blindness was permanent. The women’s commission officials handed over a cheque for Rs. 5,000 and said we will take care of your surgery expenses.
Official neglectThat was a long time ago — in December 2007. We have not heard from any official since. They have disappeared. It was all a lie. I have been forgotten.
I writhe in pain every day. I cannot see, but I can gauge the despair of my father as he has exhausted all family savings over my facial reconstruction surgeries. My father called the commission several times, but nothing moved. This hurts. It is akin to torture, and I am facing it at the hands of people who are supposed to be our rescuers.
I challenge the indifferent system that has acted against the man who threw acid on my face to extract revenge on me for refusing his sexual advances and marriage proposal, but which left me in the lurch.
Barkha Singh, chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women said: “The commission has no funds of its own. We receive funds from the Delhi chief minister’s office. Earlier we used to give out cheques in the range of R5000-15,000. Three years ago, the Supreme Court took away funding powers from the women’s commission. Now, the Delhi Legal Services Authority is the agency, which disburses funds from the chief minister’s office. The commission cannot provide any monetary relief, but the victim can get in touch with me and I will help her.”