Protest continues for justice, rehabilitation of victimsOutraged by the acid attack on two schoolgirls on Sunday, around 500 people gathered at Basantapur, the site of the incident, on Tuesday demanding justice and safety for women.
An unknown man with an orange hoodie and a face mask had thrown a bottle of corrosive agent on the two teenagers waiting for their class to begin at a tuition centre on Sunday. One of the girls sustained injuries in her face, chest and legs; the other suffered burns in her face. The attack has evoked fury among the public and raised concerns about women’s safety in the Capital.
“We used to move around freely without fear. I am a grandmother and I’m worried that this incident will give rise to a copycat. We need stronger laws to act as a deterrent,” said Poonam Rana Yakthumba, a 62-year-old participant of the demonstration at Basantapur.
According to the law, an acid attacker is jailed for two months to three years and fined between Rs500 and Rs5,000, depending on the extent of the disfigurement the acid has caused. Deputy Superintendent of Police Bed Bahadur Bista of he Metropolitan Police Circle, Janasewa, said the incident could be booked as attempted murder but it was up to the lawyer. “We are in the process of taking statements from the victims and their families and interrogating suspects. Once the case is formally lodged, a public lawyer will be assigned the case and s/he will decide whether to take the case forward as battery or attempted murder,” said Bista.
Since the laws focus more on punitive measures than restorative justice, Abhaya Subba Weise, who led the rally at Basantapur, said that the state should focus on the rehabilitation of victims as well. “We cannot be apathetic when an outrageous incident like this occurs. On March 8, we are organising a free concert, but want to ask participants to come with some money to donate for the rehabilitation of the two tenth-graders,” said Subba.
The All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union-Revolutionary also organised a protest programme on the Kathmandu District Administration Office premises on Tuesday. “We have given the government 24 hours to identify and arrest the culprit and to take care of the schoolgirls’ medical bills,” said Lal Bahadur Tamang, treasurer of the student group affiliated to the CPN Maoist.
Rights defenders and people are set to stage a protest against the heinous crime at Babarmahal at 9am on Wednesday.