To mobilise support for a campaign to get the Supreme Court to take up the cases of acid attack victims, Laxmi, an acid attack survivor from Delhi met the family of Vidhya, who had died following an acid attack on her earlier this year in Chennai. Vidhya was grievously wounded after a 32-year-old man threw acid on her while she was working at a browsing centre in Adambakkam. She died of her injuries 24 days later.
Laxmi is hoping to gather support of 20 such victims, who could then persuade the court to take up their case and provide relief.
Laxmi met Vidhya’s mother and brother in their apartment in Adambakkam on Friday. Laxmi speaks only Hindi and Vidhya’s family speaks only Tamil. Neither pretended to understand the other language but they bonded as only those in pain can. Laxmi was attacked with acid by a 37-year-old man in 2005 when she was 13 and has since then been fighting legal battles and undergoing a series of surgeries .
“We are hoping to bring together all survivors. Our lives have been laid waste but we don’t want a repeat of such incidents,” Laxmi explained to Saraswathi, Vidhya’s mother, about the purpose of her visit. Vidhya (23) was a victim of acid attack by Vijaya Bhaskar, (32), who feared she might not marry him. The accused is now in jail and awaiting court verdict.
Laxmi has undergone seven surgeries to reconstruct her face. She says she needs another half a dozen surgeries. Her father died last year and it only strengthened her resolve to bring together survivors like her to seek relief from the Supreme Court. She is among those on Stop Acid Attack page of Facebook, which already has 340 friends.
Alok Dixit, who launched the campaign on March 8 on behalf of Laxmi, said the couple had been travelling to various cities where they had identified acid attack survivors and victims. “Right now, it is just a campaign, which has managed to rope in 15 members. Some families have lost their daughters but are part of our group,” he said.
“We are hoping to draw the attention of the Supreme Court to our plight and provide guidelines for medical treatment of survivors,” Laxmi added.
Vijay and Saraswathi, who broke down as they heard her speak, have pledged support. Since Vidhya’s death on February 23, Saraswathi has not returned to her work as domestic help. Saraswathi and her son Vijay have been making several rounds of the Chengalpet court. Vijay had a job but he had to quit it to be present at the case hearings. The Rs. 2 lakh that the family received as compensation from the government has ensured that they have a rented accommodation now.