Disloyalty, fake pride and a vengeful huff: How toxicity turned acidic in Kashmir

“Rubbing her hands on her burning face and eyes, she dropped her bag and fruits she had bought for her ailing mother.”

Farzana (not her real name) was pretty sure that she was being stalked, yet again.

Ever since her family freed her from an “unfaithful bond”, her ex-fiancé’s male-ego was hurt and shore up by a vengeful huff.

That journey in the evening of 1st February 2022—from Srinagar’s Nowhatta area, where she had been working in a women saloon for last six-months to support her poor family, to her home at Eidgarh—was proving to be a bumpy ride for her.

Throughout that bus journey, she would repeatedly look outside the window to see the shades of her stalker. He was again making her anxious.

She didn’t want him to create any scene or public spectacle and harm her daily outing for her family’s sake.

As she finally boarded-off the bus near her residence, her stalker suddenly surfaced on a Scooty. He quickly opened up a bottle and spilled the content on her face and drove away.

The sheer suddenness of the attack made her shriek in pain. Rubbing her hands on her burning face and eyes, she dropped her bag and fruits she had bought for her ailing mother.

Some 12 hours later, that ailing mother was mourning her “breadwinner” being operated for her burn injuries at SMHS hospital. She feared for her eyesight and cursed her family misfortune. “She was trying to ward off that misfortune,” the mother lamented. “What would become of us now, daughter!”

Days before these dirges, the girl had informed her parents that she’s being stalked by her ex-fiancé.

Her father had called the boy’s family and asked them to leave his daughter alone.

But before the shadowy stalking would start, Farzana had refused her ex-fiancé’s persistent marriage proposals as she never wanted to live with some “disloyal” person.

A year back, said Ajaz Ahmad (not his real name), Farzana’s uncle present in the hospital, his niece was engaged with a man from Dalgate.

“But later we came to know that he had some affairs with another girl and was cheating our daughter,” he said. “We decided to break the ties with him to secure our daughter’s future.”

But engagement, Ajaz said, ended on a sour note, as the boy’s family “threatened us that they would not allow our daughter to marry another person”.

Soon Farzana would start doing odd jobs to support her father, a tailor by profession.

“She wanted to be a good daughter as she couldn’t see her father struggle to support his daughters and ailing wife,” said another attendant.

“It’s very unfortunate that she won’t be able to work again. Her eyesight is partially damaged. We demand stringent punishment for the accused involved in this heinous crime. Also the government should come forward and offer some financial support to the family so that they will be able to provide better treatment to their daughter and she can survive in the society.”

Police, meanwhile, registered the case under FIR No. 08/2022 U/S 326-A of IPC in Police Station Nowhatta and arrested the main accused — Sajid Altaf Rather from Buchwara Dalgate.

“After the initial questioning, it came out that the accused was having interest in the girl and since she had rejected his engagement proposal, he had been stalking her,” police said.

“The arrested accused had taken note of the timings of the girl long before this attack. The accused used to work in a medical shop and in the evening of Feb 1 he took a break from work and went on a Scooty towards the place where the girl used to work along with a co-accused namely Momin Nazir Sheikh from Mehjoornagar.”

The accused had purchased the acid from his acquaintance, Saleem, a motor Mechanic who works at international motors near Durga nath in Dalgate area. The third accused person has also been arrested for his further examination.

“Legal process was also initiated for sealing this workshop as one of its employees had sold acidic material in violation of court guidelines. This shop was sealed with proper procedure by the Executive Magistrate,” police said. “All shopkeepers in Srinagar are strictly instructed to follow court directions on sale of acid, failing which legal action will be initiated against them.”

The outrageous case has already activated students, activists and politicians for the new justice-rallying campaign in Kashmir.

“A girl has been attacked with acid and her soul, identity and face have been damaged,” said a woman protestor. “An example should be made of her tormentor. He should be hanged!”

Inside the hospital, the family fought emotions recalling how their daughter pleaded for help.

Following the attack, Farzana’s face was burning and her screams and cries caught the attention of the pedestrians. Since the locals knew her family, they ran to inform them about the incident.

“When I reached the spot I saw Farzana lying on the road and crying in pain and asking people to save her,” said one of her family members.

“When she saw me with her half-opened eyes, she begged to save her: ‘Mia bachaw… baya’ (Save me, brother). Since then, doctors are only trying to save her!”


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