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Defaced and Scarred for Life: Kashmir Acid Attack Victim Alleges Govt Apathy

In February last year, Anisa Nissar became a victim of a cold-blooded acid attack in Downtown Srinagar. Following the incident, the government in Kashmir assured complete assistance to the victim in bringing the perpetrators to justice and aiding the victim in getting medical relief. A year on, the victim’s family has been moving from pillar to post for treatment, begging and pleading with the authorities for aid.

By Vikas Mavi
New Update

publive-image Representative Image | Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

On the fateful evening of February 1 last year, Anisa Nissar was returning home from work. She used to work at a boutique in Nowhatta, at the heart of Downtown Srinagar. While she was walking back home, she was attacked by Sajid Altaf. Sajid was riding pillion on a friend's scooty, and the duo fled after throwing acid on Anisa.

Acid attack victim Anisa Nissar talks to The Probe’s Vikas Mavi

"I was engaged to this man Sajid. But after the engagement, he and his family started harassing us, and their demands kept increasing. They used to taunt me a lot and I faced a lot of torture. So, I broke the engagement and rejected his proposal. After nine months, on February 1, he came on a scooty and threw acid on me when I was walking back home from my workplace. He threw acid on me because I rejected his proposal," said Anisa speaking to The Probe.

Anisa's story is a case in point. It shows how a callous administration deals with a serious crime. Much before the acid attack, the family had already approached the police with a complaint regarding harassment from Sajid and his family. In one of the conversations, Anisa claims that Sajid told her, "I will deface you if you don't meet my demands."

Acid attack victim Anisa Nissar’s father Nissar Ahmad Chiloo speaks to The Probe’s Vikas Mavi

"The boy's parents would abuse us. They told us that they would burn us alive and harm our daughters. That's when we approached the Nowhatta Police Station with a complaint and sought the help of the police to keep my family safe. Despite this, the police could not avert the incident," said Anisa Nissar's father Nissar Ahmad Chiloo.

However, as soon as the incident took place, the local police arrested Sajid and his accomplice immediately. The police also sealed the workshop of the auto mechanic from whom the acid was procured. The district administration promised Anisa's father that she would be given a job, financial assistance and also medical relief. Srinagar's Deputy Commissioner, District Development Commissioner and District Magistrate, Mohammad Aijaz Assad, gave financial assistance of one lakh rupees to the victim's family and promised further assistance. Mayor Junaid Mattu offered the family his one month's salary. Politician and businessman Altaf Bukhari promised the victim's father that he would bear the entire medical expenses for her treatment.

Anisa's family claims that the doctors in Srinagar who treated her in February had told them that she had suffered severe burn injuries due to the incident. She had also lost her eyesight and was left defaced."

After an initial round of treatment in Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, the family reached a dead-end as the hospital did not have facilities for further treatment. Then the family moved to Chennai for advanced treatment. The initial treatment expenses of close to 22 lakh rupees were borne by Altaf Bukhari. But as the treatments increased and the costs multiplied, relief was not forthcoming.

"All doors closed before us. Money from Altaf saab stopped coming. I am thankful for all the assistance he provided initially, but then his staff stopped answering my calls. They used to tell me that he is in Dubai and won't be able to communicate. I went back to the Kashmir government for relief. The District Magistrate had promised me all assistance including complete medical relief, rehabilitation and a job to my daughter. So, I knocked on his doors and requested him to help me. But he said that already one lakh rupees was released and nothing more can be done beyond this point," said Anisa's father.

In Chennai, Anisa told The Probe that she underwent close to 21 surgeries in the eyes to regain partial eyesight. That apart, she also had to undergo multiple surgeries on her arms and face. More surgeries need to be done on her, but the family claims they have reached a dead-end.

“I sold everything I could to help my daughter regain her eyesight and face. But there is so much more to be done, but all doors have shut on us. We don’t have money for further treatment. In very clear terms, we have been informed by the DC’s office that they cannot give us any further financial assistance. I am a poor man. Where will I go? What is the future of my daughter? The perpetrators of this crime, those criminals, have not got harsh punishment. I am a broken man,” said Anisa’s father.

The Probe contacted the District Magistrate, Mohammad Aijaz Assad. After several attempts, finally, the DC briefly answered the phone call and said, “the administration has already provided monetary assistance”. The DC asked us to call him back in ten minutes, but he was not available for a comment ever since.

In February last year, in a Hindustan Times news report, the DC was quoted as saying: “The government is bearing complete expenses of the treatment of the victim. She was provided monetary help and shifted to a Chennai hospital,”. However, the family of the victim alleged that all they got was monetary assistance of one lakh rupees.

The news report had also quoted the Srinagar District Magistrate as saying that the administration was not only duty-bound to provide for the treatment of the victim but her complete rehabilitation as well. Anisa’s father told The Probe that the administration refused to take care of the complete medical expenses and have also been non-committal in providing a job to the victim which was promised last year.

When The Probe spoke to Anisa, she said she was more concerned about bringing the perpetrators to justice. “Yes. I am struggling a lot. My father literally has been moving from pillar to post for my treatment begging and pleading the authorities for help. I am helpless. I have gone through many surgeries and too much pain. My life has taken a 360-degree turn. But I am more concerned about justice. Sajid must be hanged. Sajid has not got the strictest punishment yet. I will fight this case myself. I want people to support me to get justice because what happened to me should not happen to another woman," said Anisa.