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AHRC Urgent Appeals

AHRC Urgent Appeals

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Women in Governance ( WinG-Assam), a network of women activists in Assam, India, regarding the acid attack on two young girls aged 18 and 12 years on 6 November 2013 at around 10-30 P.M. at Kamar Gaon village under Siphajhar police station of Darang district, Assam. The AHRC is concerned that the police have so far remained indifferent and is lethargic towards the investigation, thereby favouring the perpetrators. The survivors received no support for medical treatment despite approaching several state authorities. Cases of acid attack are not heard off in recent time in Assam and hence the authorities must take exemplary measures to prevent similar incidents in future. In India, acid and corrosive substances are readily available in the market and are often used as toilet cleaners. The country so far has not framed specific law on acid attacks. The AHRC urges the authority to immediately criminalise unlicensed production, import, transport, storage, sale and the use of acid and other corrosive substances and provide adequate compensation to the survivors in this case and many others in India.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Two young girls, namely Nirupama Kalita, 18 years and Karishma Kalita, 12 years of age, were returning home along with their mother and grandmother after a religious prayer at local Nam Ghar (a religious temple) on November 6, 2013 at around 10:30 P.M. On the way they were attacked by two masked men dressed in black that threw throw concentrated corrosive acid causing serious injury to all including the two females. The mother, Rukmini Kalita, the grandmother and Karishma were also injured. They were immediately admitted to Asamarik Medical College Hospital, Mongoldoi. Later on they were shifted to Gauhati Medical College Hospital, Guwahati for appropriate treatment, keeping in mind the serious injury. The attack caused severe injury over the face, ears and chest of Nirupama who is undergoing treatment until today even after four plastic surgeries and related treatment. The family has spent about a huge amount and requires more financial resources to continue better treatment outside the state.

Four names surfaced during the ongoing slow police investigation in connection with the incident and their identities are believed to be as follows:

1. Lachit Kalita, son of Katiram Kalita resident of Sonapujuli village, Dimakuchi, Bodoland Territorial Administered District.
2. Bhargav Kalita, son of Rameswar Kalita, resident of North Kenduguri, P.O Dipila Darang district
3. Kishore Deka, son of Thanuram Deka, Kewaliyahati village under Pathari ghat police station of Darng district.
4. Jyoti Kalita, Kamar Gaon village, Siphajhar police station of Darang district, Assam

It is reported that about 3-4 years back, when Nirupama was studying at 9th and 10th standard, Lachit used to reside with one of the relatives of the victim and at Bhargav’s place. Lachit at that time used to harass Nirupama through unsolicited love interest which was further encouraged by Bhargav. The family member asked Lachit to refrain from such approaches this was reported to Nirupama's parents. However, this action further increased the harassment. Both Lachit and Bhargav threatened her with dire consequences, even to kidnap and kill her. They also created obstacles in her studies and restricted mobility by pronouncing repeated threats. They used to call from different unknown mobile numbers and threatened not only the survivor but also her parents. An unpleasant situation ensued.

In order to evade the threats and not to affect her study, Nirupama migrated to a hostel in Sipajhar and was pursuing her education until she was attacked with acid.

The family has reasonable doubt over Kishore Deka due to certain previous unpleasant incidents. Kishore was appointed as a private tutor for Nirupama and her sister while he was working as a contractual teacher at Duni Girls Higher Secondary School about three years earlier. Kishore lured the two sisters with gifts and sexually harassed them during classes. On learning this, parents prohibited his entry in their residential premises. Kishore then adopted a different method of harassment and would make threat calls on different numbers like 9577200503, 98648056181, 9954605051 etc. On the day of the incident, 6 November 2013, Nirupama received a call from the tutor asking about her whereabouts. He came to know that she was visiting her parents. He disconnected the phone abruptly. This act raises reasonable doubts about his role in the crime.

The case was registered under Sipajhar police station [case no 357/13 u/s 341, 326A and 34 IPC]. However police showed negligence over the investigation. The bottle of acid left at the spot of incident by the accused was not seized by the police even after they were repeatedly informed. The maternal uncle of the survivor took the bottle and gave it for test in a local laboratory where it was confirmed by experts as nitric acid. Nitric acid was stored in a 1 liter coca cola bottle which was then concealed in a 3 liters mineral water bottle and was covered with black tape.

As a part of the police investigation, the suspected persons Bhargav, Kishore were arrested and released after a day while Jyoti Kalita was sent to judicial custody for ten days and then released on bail. It is reported that he reports every day at the police station but at night he stays at home. The suspects are moving freely adding continuous threat to the safety and security of the survivor and her family members. Corruption and negligence of duty by police cannot be ruled out.

In order to seek justice, the family repeatedly visited local Police Station, Out Post, Office of Superintendent of Police, Additional District Commissioner, District Commissioner, Deputy General of Police, Chief Secretariat, Home Secretariat, Health Minister’s Office, Local politician, Chief minister's Office, State Women Commission etc. for their help. However the response of these authorities towards this cruel and barbaric incident, the first in the state, remains unsatisfactory.

At present Nirupama is in critical conditions. None of the survivors received any legal help nor were they adequately compensated as per the Supreme Court order date July 18, 2013 in Laxmi vs. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Criminal) no. 129 of 2006.

ends

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