Delayed but not denied: Justice for K’taka acid attack victim

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By MK Ashoka
Chikmagalur (Karnataka), July 17 (IANS)
Sharing her gruesome experience of being the target of an acid attack and her painful quest for justice, Sumana K.G., who lives in Sringeri in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka, revealed to IANS that she was constantly mocked by her tormentors and there was nothing she could do about it.
Her one eye taken away and her face disfigured even after 18 surgeries, Sumana stoically endured physical and mental trauma as she doggedly pursued justice for almost six years after the vicious acid attack. On Friday, July 16, a local judge ensured that her attackers paid dearly for their heartless act.
The Second Additional Sessions Court awarded life imprisonment to the four accused and imposed a collective fine of Rs 20 lakh on them. The incident had taken place on the evenig of April 18, 2015.
Investigations revealed that Ganesh a.k.a. Gani, her classmate, planned the attack with Mohammad Kabir and Abdul Majeed. It was Majeed who poured acid on Sumana on the pretext of asking for an address. The fourth accused, Vinod Kumar, provided information about Sumana’s movements to the others on that fateful day.
Sumana has had 18 surgeries performed on her eyes, nose and shoulders. Night after night, she has to attach gum tape to her remaining eye as she no longer has eyelids. She also needs to fix a thin pipe to her nose while sleeping.
As Sumana suffered unspeakable pain, battling between life and death, Ganesh, who was out on bail, was unrelenting. When she came out from hospital, he kept tormenting her mentally and emotionally.
“Ganesh would proclaim loudly to my uncle and other relatives that no one could do anything to him. He used to lift his collar and vengefully spit out pan whenever he saw us on the road,” recalled Sumana, who now works at a local agency.
“After the sentencing, too, Ganesh left the courtroom staring at me and members of my family. I did not want to see his face,” Sumana said.
For the police, it was a tough case to crack because Sumana had no idea who her attackers were, nor were there any eyewitnesses. Against these odds, ACP Sudheer M. Hegde investigated the case and filed the chargesheet.
Over the past six years, Sumana was haunted by the fear that the accused would get away from the clutches of the law. Hegde, she said, gave her the moral support she needed to keep her sanity intact.
Sumana’s son was three years old whe he first saw her after the attack. The doctors and the family said to him that she had suffered injuries on her face. The boy could not stop crying for several day. Six years on, he seems to have reconciled himself to his mother’s disfigured look.
Following the unbearable pain after the series of surgeries, Suman decided not to undergo another operation to fix an artificial eyeball. After the attack, she had actually seen one eye melting and coming out. She now manages with one eye.
“I am happy that Ganesh has been punished,” Sumana said. “People kept saying that even after committing such a heinous offence, the accused are out enjoying his life. I had faith in the law and in God. I turned a blind eye, literally, to the insults and humiliation that I was subjected to all these years,” she added.
Sumana now knows that Lady Justice may be blindfolded, but she is not blind.

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