Seven weeks after a woman was attacked with acid in downtown Srinagar, a local court has framed charges against two persons, with the victim's family hoping they will be given severe punishment.
Principal Sessions Judge Jawad Ahmad on Saturday framed charges under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 326-A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the two accused — Sajjad Altaf Rather (main accused) and Mohammed Saleem Kumar.
The trial will start from March 30, police said.
Expressing satisfaction over the development, Senior Superintendent of Police (Srinagar) Rakesh Balwal said the police will fight this case till the end and ensure that the victim, who was attacked on February 1, gets justice.
"Our aim is that this case becomes a milestone in history for a speedy trial and punishment to the accused so that it acts as a deterrent for those harbouring such thoughts or having such tendencies," Mr. Balwal said.
Advocate Mir Naveed Gul, who represents the victim, said the charges were framed against the accused persons involved in the acid attack on the 24-year-old woman.
"The principal sessions judge, Srinagar, without any delay, listed the matter on an urgent basis. I appreciate the expeditious hearing of the case and the framing of charges," he said.
The victim's father, Nisar, who is with his daughter in Chennai for her treatment at an eye hospital, expressed satisfaction over the framing of charges against the accused and hoped they would be given severe punishment.
"These people have ruined everything. My daughter still has nightmares of the incident. I hope these culprits are dealt with by the law," he said and thanked the judicial system and the Srinagar police for making the case their top priority.
The victim was shifted to Chennai for specialised treatment as she lost her eyesight in the attack. The expenses are being borne by a businessman-turned-politician, who does not wish to be named.
Airzoo, the victim's sister, said she and her family have no words to thank the person paying the hospital bills.
The charge sheet was prepared in a record time of three weeks by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Balwal was personally monitoring the case and had also constituted a Special Investigation Team headed by Superintendent of Police (North) Raja Zuhaib Tanveer. SDPO Mohammed Yasir Parray, SHOs Tasir Hamid and Owais Geelani, and Sub-Inspector Shahista Mughal were its members.
Besides Rather and Kumar, the charge sheet has been filed against a juvenile, against whom the police want to press charges as an adult because of his involvement in the crime.
A petition has also been filed before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) to try the juvenile as an adult in line with the amended Juvenile Justice Act as he falls in the bracket of 16-18 years and the nature of the crime is heinous.
Subsequently, a board has been constituted by the JJB to conduct an assessment regarding his mental and psychological parameters to decide if he can be treated as an adult in the trial, SSP Balwal said.
According to the charge sheet, the juvenile helped the police recover the black glass bottle that was used to throw acid on the victim's face.
Police had also noticed injury marks on the upper side of the juvenile's right hand. He was taken to a hospital for examination and the doctors opined that the injury was caused by some chemical substance.
"During the course of investigation, it also came to light that the victim had rejected the marriage proposal of the accused". This angered the accused and he decided to "teach her a lesson" and "conspired to take revenge from the victim".
The SIT also recorded separate statements of Rather and the juvenile about the route taken by them. Their statements were corroborated by obtaining CCTV footage.
Mobile phone records as well as locations of the accused have also been annexed with the charge sheet to corroborate the conspiracy angle in the case.
Rather, who is the main accused in the case, had returned to the medical store, where he was working as a salesman, after committing the crime.