‘He should have murdered me instead of pouring acid’

While a debate on justice for women who face abuse and cruelty is raging across the country, the plight of a woman in Chikkamagaluru who was attacked with acid in 2015 is proof of how the wait for justice can be an excruciating one.

“He should have murdered me instead of pouring acid on my face. I would have been better off that way,” said Pushpa (name changed), 32, looking back on the pain she suffered every time she appeared in court or underwent surgery. So far, she has undergone 18 surgeries.

The first hearing on the case was held on August 17, 2015, and the matter is still to be disposed of. The hearing has been completed and the Second Additional District and Sessions Court has posted the matter for January 10, 2020. “The case is in the final stage. Yet, there has been no progress for nearly two years. The accused are on bail. The public prosecutor has to come from Hassan to attend the hearings,” she told The Hindu.

Ms. Pushpa, who ran a beauty parlour at Menase village near Sringeri, was returning home on April 18, 2015, when two people began following her on a bike. When she stopped her two-wheeler and opened the gate to her house, the two stopped their vehicle and sought directions to Horanadu from her. Before she could respond, one of them threw acid on her face and the duo fled.

During the investigation, the police found that it was the act of Ganesh alias Gani of the same village and three of his associates – Mohammed Kabir, Vinod Kumar and Abdul Majeed. Ganesh, the main accused, had been pestering her to marry him, and when she refused, he allegedly sent his associates to throw acid on her. Ms. Pushpa had separated from her husband and was staying with her son and elderly parents by then. She lost one eye after the attack, but even as she was undergoing surgeries on her face, the accused were released on bail. They have been roaming free since.

“Later, I learnt that the main accused was the one responsible for the break-up of my marriage. That incident ruined my life. I had to close my parlour. My son lives with my parents in the village. My elderly mother works in a hostel to feed the family while my father has had many health complications,” she said. Ms. Pushpa now works as contract labourer with the Agriculture Department and gets a monthly payment of ₹8,500.

The accused allegedly tried to settle the case by offering her money. “He [the main accused] sent some people to talk to me. I told them I did not need his money,” she said.

After the attack, the State government gave her a compensation of ₹3 lakh and she underwent surgeries with the help of an NGO. Sudheer Hegde, the police officer who investigated the case and filed the charge-sheet, helped her receive treatment with the help of the NGO. Saying that all she wanted now was justice and a government job, Ms. Pushpa concluded, “I feel the encounter of the accused in the Hyderabad rape-and-murder incident was justified.”

No end to this elderly couples’ woes

The parents of a 19-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered near Sringeri in February 2016, have been waiting for justice for almost four years. There have been 85 hearings on the case.

The accused, Pradeep and Santhosh, allegedly stopped the girl while she was returning home from college and raped her. They then strangled her and threw her body into a well nearby. “We lost our only daughter,” said her father.

The elderly couple live in the village with no one to look after their farm. The father attended several hearings in court and the accused are in judicial custody. The Principal District Sessions Judge of Chikkamagaluru had posted the case for judgment on December 11, but it was adjourned again.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 9:38:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/he-should-have-murdered-me-instead-of-pouring-acid/article30312716.ece

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