The story of courage and bravery: Laxmi Agarwal

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Laxmi Agarwal

An acid attack also known as vitriol attack is a type of assault on women, at least that’s what people say. But in actuality acid attack is an attempt to ruin women, smash their dignity and destroy their future. About 300 cases are reported each year, but the real figure is probably closer to 1,000. Women are threatened and even tormented by the evil predators just to seek little epitome of superiority. And the part of this injustice the very first name that pops up first in our mind is Acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. The brutal attack on her left an everlasting damage to not only her face but also to her mind. But despite such circumstances they she emerged out of the dark is inspiring and at the same time an epitome for change.

The story of Laxmi Agarwal:

Belonging to a middle class family, Laxmi Agarwal who was 15 at that time dreamed of becoming a singer. But her dream doesn’t seem to fascinate Naeem Khan who was 32 years old at that time. The man wanted to marry her and thus had proposed her on several occasions, however Laxmi denied. And why not? She was just a teenager chasing her dreams. But life doesn’t approve of that. In 2005, one fine day, Laxmi was going to a bookstore in Khan Market, Delhi, when she was accosted by Naeem, who attacked her with acid. She lay on the spot, struggling in pain, until a cab driver came and rushed her to the nearby Safdarjung hospital.

“I felt as if someone had set my whole body on fire. The skin was just coming off, it was like dripping, from my hands and from my face.” Said Laxmi Agarwal in an interview.

For next three months she was at the hospital, in a ward with no mirror where she had to undergo several surgeries. After 100 days of the accident, Laxmi had chance to look at her face, and when she did- her life changed. The horrific attack left a massive trauma on her. She was depressed and locked herself in the room. It was the support of her parents that she not only came out but also filed the case. As a result, the accused, Guddu was sentenced to 10 years in jail, and Rakhi was imprisoned for seven years. In 2006, she filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court and sought a total ban on sale of acid. She even went on getting a vocational training at National Institute of Open Schooling. She was doing a beautification and tailoring course when the thing hit her. She thought to herself that why is she doing such a course when she herself covers up her face? And that’s where the change start. She took off her veil and proudly went out without any cover. Later she decided to address the issue of acid attack in the country. She met more such victims and over hearing about their journey, Laxmi was left with only anger and pity. She opened a café named Sheroes, in the busy Fatehabad Road of Agra, where Laxmi began to employ acid attack victims and provided them with livelihood opportunities. In 2013, the court ruled in favour of her plea, and imposed restrictions on the sale of acid. The same year, Laxmi Agarwal also became a campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks, founded by Alok Dixit and Ashish Shukla. Later, she married to Alok Dixit and even had a daughter.     

Why acid purchase is so easy?

There are various types of acid available in market but highly used are Hydrochloric and sulpharic acid. Years after ban, acid finds free flow in Indian society. Availability of such acids are the primary cause in accelerating such crimes. Even after the Supreme Court ordered every state and Union Territory to outlaw the over-the-counter sale of acid, yet one can buy without any hesitation in various places across the country. Today, acid is sold over the counter for as low as Rs.30. The same study deduced that from 2002 to 2010, in India, 88 percent of the acid attack perpetrators were men and 72 percent of the victims were women. Do you know that in Noida a five liter can of hydrochloric acid can be bought in Rs.100? Though in 2013, Supreme Court ordered to cross the check the sale and purchase of acid attack and some strict guidelines were introduced. It was important to provide a photo and a copy of identity card to buy any such acid so that buyer can be traced in any untoward case. But very few regulations are observed these days. So where do we lack? In implementation or execution?

Though the country has some strict laws and punishment regarding acid attack, yet not much change has come on our way. Under Section 326A Indian Penal Court, surpassed a law of minimum 10 years of imprisonment, whereas depending upon the sensitivity of the crime, it may expand to life imprisonment. Still the perpetrators are left untouched.

One of the Laxmi’s key focus areas in the rehabilitation process of acid victims is to ensure they receive adequate treatment and healthcare options. And this is the most crucial initiative out of all. Through this, she educates the victim about the required treatment for their burned skin and also ensures a good treatment to them. Very often we see that the hospitals don’t have proper treatment for burned patients. Thus, Laxmi Agarwal makes sure that these victims get the required treatment on time.

The intriguing trailer of Chhapaak:

The very first trailer of the biopic of Laxmi Agarwal starring Deepika Padukone was dropped two days back on 10th December. The trailer gives some of the chilling details of the and following the incident back in 2005. Along with this, the trailer also focus on Laxmi’s transformation from being a victim to becoming a renowned name. Anyways the movie will be at theaters by 10th January 2020 and we hope it really makes a difference.    

Laxmi Agarwal

People like Laxmi gives us hope that despite having harshest of circumstances, giving up is the biggest failure. Though having a burnt face, she has a confidence that much higher than us all. Laxmi Agarwal is indeed someone, whose determination and willpower inspires millions of people.


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