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Even acid attack couldn’t stop this gritty U.P. girl from pursuing her dream

A student paints a message against acid attacks on a wall of a footbridge in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A local court in Rae Bareli on March 19 provided 22-year-old Pooja (name changed) a sense of closure two years after she was brutally attacked with acid. The court awarded the accused, her distant relative, life imprisonment for allegedly throwing acid on her in April 2019 when she was going for screening for a job in the police force.

Pooja had suffered 29% burns; the acid burnt her neck, chest, abdomen, back and elbow and spent almost two months in hospital.

The tragedy, however, did not deter her from chasing her ambition. In February 2020, ten months after the acid attack, Pooja joined the police and has been posted in a police station in east Uttar Pradesh. “When there is passion in the heart for something, nothing comes in the way. I could only see my goal and was bent on achieving it,” she says.

On April 16 morning, Pooja, then 20, was on her way to a coaching centre for competitive exams in Unchahar when the accused Pradeep, her brother-in-law’s cousin, was allegedly waiting for her on the side of the road with a bottle in his hand. Pradeep allegedly caught hold of her cycle and poured acid on her back. As a crowd gathered, the accused fled the scene. Due to the pain and burning sensation, Pooja lost consciousness after four-five minutes.

Pooja is reluctant to speak about the background behind the crime.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Vineet Singh, who investigated the case, says the accused attacked Pooja because she rejected his marriage proposal. “Acid is mostly used to deface the girl when she refuses to continue the affair or marry,” he said.

In her statement to the court, Pooja said she knew the accused for five years and that he would phone her and message her expressing love and asking for marriage apart from sending her indecent texts. Due to this, she said, she started avoiding his calls.

‘No empathy’

While convicting Pradeep under Section 326 A of the IPC, special judge Heera Lal said there was no grounds for any “empathy” for such persons who disfigure a woman by pouring acid on her. The convict was also fined ₹50,000.

Given the low conviction rate in acid attacks, Pooja is content with the disposal of the case. When she was attacked she had not only cleared the exam for police constable but also the Railway Protection Force. However, she missed the physical examination as she was admitted to the hospital then. Now, she is preparing for examinations to qualify for a higher rank than a constable.

Pooja says women should not give up their career due to fear of boys or society. “Some even stopped going to college due to fear after such incidents happened to others. Women should focus on being self-dependent,” she said.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:21:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/up-woman-joins-police-force-within-10-months-after-an-acid-and-is-now-aiming-higher-attacker-awarded-life-term/article34142455.ece

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