Tarana

Tarana means that song which glorifies one's life. The girl with this name that has such music in it is today lying in a tiny room at Chhanv, with her face covered with a safety mask, to keep infection away. Not just her face, even her neck shoulder and arms were burnt in an acid attack in September, 2013. Like most other cases of acid attack, Tarana was also burnt in the name of love, as she witnessed the most brutal face of humanity.

Residing in Agra, the city that houses the wonder of the world, monument of love, the Taj Mahal, I never anticipated its residents would have such a dakr side to their love. I often wonder now why everyone's heart is not as beautiful as the Taj.

Like any other 20-year-old, I too, was just following the desires of my heart to be with a man who would love to explore the beauty of life with me, while he gives a little love and care that every woman yearns for. My quest led me to a man who left me in a state where I can't spot anything that made my life beautiful. My face doesn't look like anything it was, arms and shoulders are burnt, I can't move without help, even to the washroom.

I was in love with Ishtyaq, and we were planning to marry. But Ishtyaq's mother was not too happy with our love and demanded a huge dowry, which was out of my family's reach. She refused to marry her son to a girl who can't afford to get the money she wanted and the entire family, including Ishtyaq, didn't object to her ways.

Witnessing this behaviour of Ishtyaq and his family, I changed my mind and decided not to marry him. Despite being aware of our financial situation, Ishtyaq didn't even bother to interfere when his mother kept conditions before our marriage. Later, when my family looked for a suitable match and tried to marry me to someone else, Ishtyaq objected to it as if I was his possession. Neither did he choose to resolve his family's issues concerned with our marriage, nor did he let me marry the person my family ad chosen for me.

I don't know if it was the frustration of not being able to go against his mother and marry me, or was he following his mother's ideas, but Ishtyaq put all my anticipation to rest one night when he broke in to my house with his brother Naushad and threw acid on me.

Our poor household did not even have a lock and the main door was tied with a rope. I initially thought it was hot tea, but my brother turned on the lights and understood it was acid that was burning my eyelids and melting my skin. I would have lost my eyes if I hadn't covered them with my hands.

With this, Ishtyaq burnt all our love, dreams, and imagination with acid in an instant and hurt my soul in a way that it can't be repaired. His inhumanity helped me understand how women have no say on their own lives and men consider us mere objects that can be disfugured/mutilated when not of their use anymore.

Next day, when my cousin lodged FIR against Ishtyaq and his elder brother Naushad, they were absconding from their house and their mother Nazo pretended she wasn't aware of the attack. Later, when they realized my family had seen them throwacid on me, Ishtyaq surrendred to the police, and Naushad was nabbed later. Their mother Nazo, however kept threatening us she will get her son out of the jail and will take revenge.

I have undergone two surgeries of my shoulders and eyelids in two months, but am still unable to close my left eye. Even my lips need reconstruction, as I am still unable to consume food properly. I didn't need money to buy me love, but I do need some financial support to repair what love has taken away from me. I see Laxmi walking around and understand that I will never look how I did before. May be, the poor in this country should understand love, honesty and justice from a different dictionary. The definitions have changed in our society.

Arti Thakur

At the beginning of the year, Aarti Thakur (23) faced an acid attack at Goregaon station, that too in the peak evening hours. The 23-year-old girl had just begun her career in marketing and her family had pinned its hopes on her to kiss their financial woes goodbye.

Their dreams were dashed that evening, two months after she joined a renowned IT company in Goregaon. Following the attack, she never heard from her employers ever again. But, what Aarti regrets most is how all her colleagues, who over a period of two months had become good friends, wiped her out of their lives. "Till date, not a single colleague or friend has called to enquire or help. This attack was also an eye-opener in many ways," she said.

The attack brought about a sea-change in the once confident and outgoing girl. She has now confined herself to their one-room flat in Nalasopara and steps out only for hospital visits or unless absolutely necessary. And every time she covers herself from head to toe. "Partly, it is the fear of being attacked again, and part of it is about the way I look now," she said. The gruesome attack left her with serious burns and scars on eyebrows, face, neck and forearms. The attack also mentally scarred her 21-year-old sister, who always steps out wearing a burqa now. She is pursuing a beautician's course and dropped out of her college for want of funds.

Aarti's family, which comprises her mother, a single parent, and her sister, are practically leading a hand-to-mouth existence. The only earning member of her family, Aarti made about Rs 14,500 a month before the attack. Now, the family has no source of income. Their home rent of Rs 3,000 is pending for the last six months. She said the IT firm she worked for also owes her 21 days' salary that they have refused to pay her. "But, we do not have the time and resources to fight for all that now," she said.

Now, a typical day in the household starts with Aarti's mother Seema making a list of trusts and organizations she has to visit. She aims at collecting Rs 2 lakh for at least three more surgeries that Aarti has to undergo. Aarti said she wants to get back to her normal self and ensure her attackers suffer as much as she is suffering now. The trial in the case is yet to begin and all the accused are out on bail.

Arti

Aarti hails from Kanpur. In the afternoon of 24th January 2000, while aarti was returning from her tuition classes with her father on scooter, she was attacked by a ruthless follower. They tossed the acid bottle on her face.

The acid went straight on her face. It also burnt a large part of her back and 80% of her face. As per the doctors, the attack was so fierce that if she did not reached the hospital on time, the acid would have entered her brain as well.

The main offender and acid attacker is the son of an income tax officer and aarti's college mate. Very often he teased aarti, who had opposed him several times for doing this. These incidents started to tense and disturb aarti's father too. Hence he frequently picked up aarti from her tuition classes to home.

Aarti case is one of most talked about cases in the town. It was kanur's first recorded acid attack case. This incident had shattered the complete city. People started gathering near the hospital where aarti was hospitalized and demanded to arrest the offenders immediately. Women associations, government as well as non government organizations criticised this incident. It also grabbed its position on the first page of the newspapers. Around ten thousand people gathered in front of the hospital which made her treatment unworkable.

Considering the acuteness of the case, even Kanpur police managed to find and arrest the offender from his maternal uncle's place and was still searching for the other two offenders who were with the main culprit. Finally after long and tiring efforts, all the offenders were arrested.

And finally after 9 long years in 2009, the Aarti case was brought to the court for its first hearing. The fast track court declared 10 years of imprisonment with rigorous punishment and cash penalty of Rs. 5 Lakhs for Abhinav. Whereas, the other offenders were punished with 8 years of imprisonment and cash penalty of Rs. 2.5 lakhs each. The fight for the right was at last won by Aarti and her family. But it did not last for long as, in December 2010, all the accused successfully escaped from the imprisonment by faking the documents.

Meanwhile, Aarti had gone through 4 major surgeries worth Rs. 16 lakhs. But nothing could do much to her face. Aarti and her family are now tired of the fight that they challenge in everyday life. And Aarti is now fighting her depression each day.

After all dis had happened, aarti's faily had shifted from Kanpur to Gwalior. Aarti;s father says, "it became very difficult for us to survive in Kanpur anymore, every other day we were threatened to take our case back. People were very curious to know about our daughter which made life too difficult for us. Hence, we had to leave that city. Their financial condition was also one of the major reasons for them to settle in Gwalior where they have a house of their own"

Chanchal and Sonam

Chanchal and her younger sister Sonam, who were continuously trying to lodge a complain in the police station, at last had to be the victims of acid attack just because their voice was unheard.

On 20th October 2012, both the sisters were attacked by few men, while they both were sleeping on the terrace. Although Chanchal was the main target of the attackers but even her younger sister, Sonam was unfortunately roped in.

This happened in the maner area of bihar. Anil, a young man from the samw village was teasing Chanchal for past 2 years. Chanchal, along with her sister Sonam, used to go to Danapur for her computer coaching. Anil proposed to her one day on their way to the coaching and started to tease her every day. Chanchal informed her mother about the same but her mother asked them to be quite as she was afraid that Anil could harm her daughters.

When chanchal's father came to know about it, he went to lodge FIR against Anil to the police station but he was unnoticed and unheard. The police did not take any strict action against them.

Meanwhile, chanchal continuously kept rejecting Anil's Proposal. This annoyed him and he finally decided to clear the matter between Chanchal and him, with acid.

Right after the attack, both the sisters were taken to the government hospital in Patna. As soon as the police was informed about it, they immideately arrested Anil. This disgraceful situation could have been avoided if the police had taken any action right after chanchal's father had lodged the complain in the police station.

Doctors say that chanchal's condition is fine now. But the 18 year old girl still needs time to get over her physical and mental scars. She also needs help to overcome this situation so that she can lead a normal life in future.

Tuba

15 years old Tabassum is still undergoing treatments in Safdarganj Hospital, Delhi. She was attackedby acid by her own classmate in which her face and eye was very severely burnt.Tabassum hails from Sivan district of Bihar. On 26th September 2012 while heading for her tuition she was attacked by a boy. He threw the bottle of acid on tabassum's face. As the pain was unbearable, she fell on the ground and the boy poured the rest of the acid on her back cruelly. The culprit was tabassum's classmate and liked her. After the confession of his feelings for whichtabassum declined, he plotted this acid attack against her along with his friends. The acid victim was firstly admitted to Sivan's Sadar hospital and then later shifted topatna's Apollo Hospital as the condition worsen. According to tabatsum's father Mohammad Aarif Ashraf who presently works in a local court of Sivan, the treatment have cost him more than 1.5 lakhs. And there is no sure guarantee of her recovery. Now undergoing treatments in safdarganj hospital of delhi, Tabatsum have lost her power of speech and sight due to the acid attack.The attack has also destroyed her family. Tabatsum was about to give her 10 th board exams in themarch. Other than that her father has yet not returned to his work and tabatsum's siblings have tostay at their relative's place. Although the culprit is behind the bars presently but his acid attack have ruined the complete life of Tabassum. As Tabatsum's father's income is not much, he urges for financial support for Tabatsum's treatment.

Suneeta

Three members of a family suffered burn injuries when a person allegedly threw acid on them over a minor dispute in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district.

Bhola threw acid on Santosh, his wife Sunita and daughter Roshni over a minor dispute in Tadhauli of Purwa area on 31st July 2013. They suffered minor injuries and were discharged after treatment.

A case was registered and efforts being made to arrest the accused.

Haseena

Haseena was just 19 when she was struck by acid. This incident took place on 22nd april 1999 when her boss attacked her with acid.

After completing her B.Com., Haseena was working with the Sneha software company in Bengaluru. During those days, the company was running in losses. Hence, she left the job and searched for another. This annoyed her boss and he started to force Haseena to leave her new job and to work for his company from home. But Haseena kept denying.

One day when haseena was on her way to her new office, her boss stopped and threatened with the bottle of acid in his hand. Haseena still did not change her decision. Annoyed by his failing attempts, he immideately spilled the bottle of acid on her face, saying, "ab dekhta hu ki kaise tum kisi aur ke computer pe kaam karti ho.." ("now i'll see how you work on someone else's computer")

The acid burnt 64% of her body from head till toe. She was immideatley take to the nearest hospital where they recommended her to MS Ramaya Hospital. There before even treating her, they demanded for 1 lakh rupees for the treatment.

Later she was taken to Victoria government hospital, where she was kept untreated for the next 2 days. Once when haseena was in acute pain, her mother asked the nurse to check her but the nurse demanded for money to check the condition of her daughter. Haseena's fther was into armed forces hence was out of town. When he returned after twp days, he was asked to take haseena to some other hospital.

Haseena had undergone 13 surgeries in the next 8 months and there were other surgeries waiting. Till then haseena's family had already spent 9 lakh rupees and their house was also sold.

Her boss was finally arrested and was sentenced to 5 years and 2 months of imprisonment. But he was set free right after 2 months of imprisonment. Haseena rose her voice against it, which compelled the government to increase his punishment to 14 years of imprisonment.

The justice that haseena got from the action of the government encouraged her to fight for other the victims of acid attacks. She is now associated with many NGOs and has filed a PIL which was finally categorised under Attempt To Murder.

Shabana

A family forced acid down twenty-two year old's Sabana Khatun's throat in Diamond Harbour on June 23, 2012. After she fainted from this assault, they ripped her clothes off and poured acid on the rest of her body and after all of this they left her for dead at the Diamond Harbour Hospital. Her alleged crime was accepting a marriage proposal from her boyfriend of four years, Isha Mondal. With only one perpetrator briefly arrested, all of the perpetrators continue to roam freely living with impunity. They live less than two kms away from her house and they continue to serve a constant source of fear for Sabana. They continuously threaten her telling her that they let her off easily and next time they will ensure her demise and they will do a similar thing with her sister.

Sabana Khatun was dating her boyfriend Isha Mondal for four years when he proposed to her. On June 2012, when Isha Mondal brought Sabana Khatun home to his family, the Mondal's immediately disapproved of Sabana and began yelling at Sabana because she came from a poor family. The yelling continued and eventually lead to physically abusing Sabana. Saira Mondal the mother Isha Mondal and the grandfather urged her family to kill Saabana, which led to attaining the bottle of acid. The perpetrator Ilias Mondal, father of Isha Mondal who held Sabanas mouth open and poured acid down her throat. Imran Monda and Insan Monndal, brothers of Isha Mondal held Sabana's arm so that she would not move. Sabana tried to force herself to spit out the liquid only to have Ilias Mondal cover her mouth and hold onto it until she swallowed the acid properly. Sabana fainted from the attack, and they continued the torture by ripping her clothes off acid in the middle of her chest, inner thighs, and on her stomach to cause further damage to her body. Though Isha Mondal did not physically participate in abusing Sabana he did nothing to stop the attacks as he silently watched as Sabana was brutally tortured by his family. The Mondal family dumped Sabana's body under an alias name at the Diamond Harbour hospital thinking she was dead .

Though Sabana miracously physically survived that ordeal, she continues to live her life in fear. She cannot eat properly most solid foods, it hurts for her to sit properly with her wounds, and she cannot even attend school. Ever since the attack, her perpetrators have warned her against going to school telling her that they "let her go easily" and next time they will ensure that she will suffer a worse fate. Additionally, the Mondal family has made repeated similar threats towards Sabana's younger sister telling her that they would repeat the same fate with her sister. Sabana's family sold a small piece of land they owned as well and managed to come up with Rs 50,000 to pay Sabana's treatment and legal fees. Her father, Shahjahan Khatun works as a driver, farmer, and tailor, and makes a mere Rs 4000/- per month.

Sabana still needs numerous treatments including plastic surgery. Sabana has not been able to physically or emotionally recover from the ordeal because her perpetrators are freeling roaming around. Though the main trial is still pending, there has been no formal investigation by the police. This is a iconic case of police inaction and culture of impunity. It is extremely necessary for investigations to be started and justice to be delivered to Sabana as her perpetrators live less than 2 kms away from her house. Further, it is imperative that Sabana and her sister be immediately be moved for her own personal safety.

Bhawna

Bhavna was attacked along with her sister Pratima in Meerut in 2003. She was the sole bread winner of her family when the sisters were attacked by a 65-year old man whose advances Bhavna had rejected. While Bhavna sustained 52 per cent injuries, parts of Bhavna's hands were burned in the attack. Pratima is still undergoing treatment while Bhavna fends for her family by taking up odd stitching jobs.

Ritu

In a state notorious for female foeticide, a girl's birth certifies the progressive outlook of her parents. But that didn't stop others from making my life a living nightmare; so much so that I think dying in the womb might have been a better option.

Haryana, with its skewed sex ratio, isn't the best of places for a girl to grow up. I have sensed the male supremacy — and retrogressive mindset — at every step.

But I had never felt our women could be dangerous too, capable of inflicting more harm than, say, a khap panchayat.

When I did on May 26, 2012, it was too late. The face I was born with had become history — the outcome of a property dispute.

I fell in love with volleyball while studying in Class VI at Saini High School in Rohtak. Like every day, I had started off for the volleyball court to practice that day too.

As soon as I reached the Prem Nagar Chowk around 4:30pm, two young men approached me on a motorbike. Before I could take evasive action, the pillion rider had splashed acid over me.

The chowk is a bustling place. Shopkeepers crowded around as I lay there, squirming in pain. But nobody stepped forth to help; they were more interested in discussing the whys and whos of the incident.

Fortunately, my elder brother was passing by. He spotted me and rushed me to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in a police van that happened to reach there at the moment.

I fainted on the way to the hospital. I regained consciousness the following morning to see my parents and other relatives crowded around me in the emergency ward.

They did not need to break the news. The expression on their faces told me how I looked — disfigured forever.

Every second of the two months that I spent on the hospital bed, I wondered what I had done to deserve this cruelty.

And I asked lord Krishna if it were His way of telling me I should not enact Him every Janmashtami at the local temple.

I was pretty good at dressing up and performing as lord Krishna. I used to be the unanimous choice of our colony's residents to enact Him, and I couldn't say no.

Before long, I came to know I was more than just a victim of an acid attack. My aunt, Rajwanti, had hired two men to target my parents over a property dispute. But why should anyone destroy my life by using my face to settle scores?

The police filed a charge sheet five months after the incident.

Three of the accused were booked under Section 307 (attempt to murder), and five others — Rajwanti, acid seller Raju, Sohan Lal, Manjit and Sanjay Kumar — were booked under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Punjab & Haryana High Court has recently granted bail to Rajwanti and Raju.

The law took its course but it won't bring back the phase in my life before May 26, 2012.

I received 45% burns on my body and 90% on my face, besides losing the right eye. The acid affected the sight in my left eye too; water keeps rolling down from it if I keep it open for long hours.

The neck and the left part of my chest are mutilated. I am almost like a visually and physically impaired person. And I feel like someone else wearing a misshapen mask. But my photo albums are proof how much I loved myself and enjoyed being the birthday girl once a year.

I enjoyed celebrating every festival – from Holi and Diwali to New Year - with fervour. Those days are gone, confined as I am to our two-bedroom house.

Our house is quite close to my school and the volleyball court, and all my friends used to assemble at our house every evening. But no one, barring a solitary friend, comes in now.

And I can't muster enough courage to visit their houses. You know the reason: People are not sensitive enough to give company to or be seen with a burn or acid attack victim.

Gone are the days of studying, playing and shopping. Today, I spend my time doing household chores or helping my mother stitch, sew or tailor.

And yes, reminding myself about what not to do and what not to eat. Now I can't eat many of the things I could earlier die for, and I can't go out in the sun without covering my face and burns.

My father Sita Ram Saini, an automobile mechanic, is the sole bread earner for our six-member family. My medical expenses have added to his burden. To date, we have received only Rs.25,000 from the district administration. Nothing else!

My father has spent around Rs. 2.5 lakh on my two major operations.

I feel bad that he had to spend his life's savings on my treatment, forcing him to take a loan to meet the family's expenses. My mother, Raj Bala, used to inspire me to make a name for myself. I am sure she did not want me to make news this way — another victim of the crimes against women in India.

My mother, once my guiding light, does not see even a spark at the end of the tunnel. Today, she keeps lamenting that I cannot get married because I have a "kharaab chehra" (ugly face).

But I hope to receive the Rs. 20 lakh that education minister Geeta Bhukkal and Rohtak legislator BB Batra have promised me for surgeries in New Delhi to restore my face. And, God willing, lead a normal life again.

Shaina

Shaina was attacked with acid three and a half years back on 11th august 2009. The reason was predictable as others- REJECTION. She rejected the proposal of marriage from a boy whowanted to marry her. She had some other goals in her life, different dreams for her spouse. But now, we are not sure that she will get married in future or not. Her dreams are shattered, her lifeis ruined.

Initially she underwent treatment at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital for three months. For the further surgeries she was referred to RML hospital by Dr Ashish Rai who has been looking after her treatments and surgeries since day 1.

In her case the verdict was satisfying after a long struggle, the accused was convicted and awarded life imprisonment from the lower court. But still Shaina's family cannot take a breadth and rest now because the judgment is challenged in high court and she has to continue her fight for justice there as well.

We are in constant touch with her and keeping a close eye on her health and trying to help her in all possible manner. We have been coordinating with our friends to help her start working. We will also be guiding her about the care she should take post surgeries. She underwent her 17th surgery in February this year and has been recovering from it until now. With this surgery doctors have detached her neck from cheek and done her ear grafting. They took skin graft from her thigh and put it on the neck. Now she finds it pretty easy to move her neck left and right. And her face looks better as well!

Shaina is a very laborious and hard working girl with never say die attitude. She is willing to do any work within her limits from her home to support her family and finance her surgeries as they cost a lot.

She has four sisters and a brother. Eight members in total including Shaina and her parents, all of them are into stitching and various kinds of embroideries. Shaina wants a home based work as she has to undergo surgery every 3 to 4 months. And it takes a month for recovery. During this time she could not step outside. Her family members will complete her work on time during her recovery phase. She is very confident and wants people to trust her and give orders to see her dedication and help her meeting her livelihood expenses.

Note: Having a family background in stitching and an experience over 20 years, her family is expert in all kind of embroideries, stitching on clothes and leather. They can take up target based contract in the above mentioned works. We would also appreciate any kind of financial help in form of direct donation into her bank account having the details mentioned ahead. Looking forward to every one with hope to salvage her life from dire straits.