Monday, November 2, 2015

Odisha Crime Branch comes up with a plan to tackle Acid Attacks, but can we really end the attacks?

Despite a sharp rise in acid attacks in India, there has not been concrete steps taken by the authorities to tackle the situation. Sadly, various state governments have shared their inability to tackle the problem because of the widespread distribution of acid in the corners of the country.

But all is not gloomy. Crime Branch in the state of Odisha has done something which may become a reference point for many in the coming days. Crime Branch chief B.K Sharma has issued a circular in which he has asked all district Superintendent of Police (SPs) to treat acid attack at par with murder cases and categories them in ‘Red Flag cases’ (most sensational cases). Not only this, the state CB has chalked out strategies to tackle unauthorised sale of acid. The CB Chief has instructed the officials to regularly raid the unauthorised sellers of acid in respective areas.

The CB Chief has said on record that the Crime Branch has identified various acid attack cases in the state, and will be monitoring the cases. No officer below the rank of Inspector will be allowed to investigate acid attack cases, showing the seriousness of the department to tackle the issue.

Over the years, Supreme Court of India has shared its displeasure over the centre’s failure in tackling the menace of acid attacks in the country. It has released various statements and guidelines to follow. In the famous Laxmi versus Union of India case, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines for the Union Government to regulate the sale of acid in the retail shops, and also take care of the medical expenses of the victim. But there has not been much progress by the Central government nor the various state governments.

Though the Uttarakhand government has come up with a notice for the private hospitals to treat acid attack victims and not run away from their humanitarian responsibilities. The state government has also set up a new Nirbhaya relief fund for the acid attack victims, where the victims can receive assistance upto Rs 3 Lakhs. Only three women have received the assistance till date.

Though these are welcome steps by the authorities, but the crucial questions remain unaddressed. Assistance of Rs 3 Lakhs is still a very less amount for acid attack victims. Alok Dixit, founder of Stop Acid Attacks campaign, has told that it is too less an amount to bring back life and dignity of a woman. Also the the various surgeries require upto Rs 20 Lakhs for an individual. Apart from this, a nationwide campaign by the Prime Minister to address the issue of acid attacks is required. India is one of the leaders in acid attacks in the world. The issue requires pro-activeness of the central government the same way it showed in Swachch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India campaign). Without the Prime Minister taking the issue in his own hands, the fight is very crucial.

This article was first published on LokMarg on August 10, 2015

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