Doctors battle to save acid victim’s eye

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NEW DELHI: A day after acid was thrown on four sisters in UP’s Shamli district near Muzaffarnagar, doctors in Delhi were battling to save the left eye of one of the victims that was badly damaged in the attack.

The 23-year-old victim was brought to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital late on Tuesday with severe burns in the chest, face and neck. Doctors said on Wednesday they were most concerned about the injury in her left eye.

“The cornea has severe acid burn injury. Blood supply to the area is restricted and even the surface area is affected,” said Dr A K Grover, chairman of the hospital’s ophthalmology department.

The four sisters — aged between 20 and 26, and all working as teachers in different schools at Kandhla town in Shamli — were returning home after invigilation duty when two unidentified men on a motorcycle sprayed acid on them with a pichkari (spray gun used in Holi).

“I spoke to the girls who said that they had stopped students from cheating in the exams,” the victims’ uncle told TOI. “We do not know why the girls were attacked but it could be related to their invigilation duty.”

He said two of the sisters were also pursuing higher studies while continuing to teach. “All four were assigned invigilation duty at the Hindu Inter-college in Kandhla for the UP board exam. They were returning around 5 pm on Tuesday when the two men attacked them,” he said.

According to the family, all four were rushed to the Shamli district hospital before one of them was referred to a Delhi hospital “The three other sisters are stable,” said a family member who requested that they be left alone at this time of crisis.

Dr Grover from Sir Ganga Ram hospital said they had put a graft in the victim’s left cornea to supplement nutrition in the area and restore the surface covering. He said the girl was otherwise stable and able to talk.

Meanwhile, reports from Shamli indicated that at least one more girl, a passerby, too have received injuries during the acid attack. A case has been registered against the two men and indications are harsher sections will be added once the victim becomes fit for statement.

No arrests or detentions have been made so far although several youths in the area were being questioned. “It seems unlikely that merely stopping examinees from cheating was the reason behind the attack though we are not ruling it out. We are probing personal enmity angle,” said an investigating officer at the Kandhla police station.

The attack comes even as President Pranab Mukherjee signed a tough new legislation to counter violence against women. The legislation stipulates a jail term of up to 10 years for acid attacks.

The incident took place in full public view on the crowded Char Khamba road near Kandhla crossing and led to widespread anger among residents who later met the area superintendent of police demanding the immediate arrest of the accused.

The sisters, residents of Sheikhtajganj locality of the town, belong to a lower middle class family. Apart from their salaries, the family depends on a ration shop licensed in the name of their mother. Their father died several years ago. The family consists of a total of nine daughters, four of whom are married.

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