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.
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.
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.
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.