BHUBANESWAR: Benefits of the State Government for acid attack survivors continue to elude the victims of the ghastly crime.
Eight years back, Sunita Pradhan (name changed) became a victim of acid attack at the tender age of seven. The owner of the house where she was forced to work as a maid in Mancheswar area here, threw acid on her over a petty issue. She sustained severe burn injuries on her face.
Sunita, now 15 years, survived the attack and after undergoing several bouts of painful treatment, moved on in her life and is staying in a child care institute at Khandagiri. The girl, who studies in Class X, has undergone surgery thrice and continues to avail medical treatment. However, she is yet to receive the financial support of the State Government which acid attack victims are entitled to.
“As no FIR was registered in my case, I have been deprived of the financial support provided to acid attack victims by the Government,” she said. Sunita’s is not a lone case. Several other acid attack survivors have been deprived of compensation and benefits from the Government due to such technicalities.
Many acid attack victims including 23-year-old Damayanti Bihari of Kalahandi and 22-year-old Minati Pradhan of Ganjam have been deprived of Government benefits as they are yet to be issued identity cards by the Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SSEPD) department recognising them as acid attack victims.
“These are few of many examples that expose the failure of Government schemes and programmes meant for these victims. Not a single acid attack survivor who applied for identity card has been issued the same by the SSEPD department,” said former chairperson of State Commission for Women (SCW) and social activist Namrata Chadha during the first-anniversary celebration of Odisha chapter of Acid Survivors and Women Welfare Foundation (ASWWF) on Sunday.
The victims, who are recognised as differently-abled, are entitled to such cards which help in their rehabilitation, skill development training as well as getting Government jobs. “Non-issuance of these cards is a hindrance to their career,” said Chadha who is now the member of State Juvenile Justice Board.
The State Government’s efforts to check incidence of acid attacks have failed to yield the desired results as eight such cases were reported in Odisha last year. ASWWF resident representative TN Panda said more stringent measures are needed to prevent such heinous crimes and sale of acid in the market also needs to be regulated properly.
Chief guest of the event SCW member Snehanjali Mohanty said steps are being taken address the technicalities and ensure that Government benefits reach the victims of acid attack in time.