KATHMANDU, Sept 25: Following the death of one of the acid attack victims of Rautahat on Sunday, the family members of the victims have demanded strong action against the perpetrator. They have also expressed dissatisfaction toward the lack of support from the government.
Samjhana Das, 18, of Chandrapur Municiaplity-6 breathed her last at a Kirtipur-based hospital at 11:40 pm on Sunday while she, along with her younger sister Sushmita, was undergoing treatment after being allegedly attacked with acid by a neighbor. The younger sister, Sushmita Das, 16, is still receiving treatment at the same hospital.
The two sisters were attacked by acid at around 11 pm on September 11 while they were sleeping at their home. According to the victims’ stepmother Parmasheela Devi Das, the sisters were rushed to Chandrapur Hospital for treatment from where they were referred to Kathmandu for further treatment.
Police have arrested Ram Babu Paswan, 50, a neighbor of the Das family, on the charge of murder attempt. Paswan had accompanied the Das family to the capital for the treatment of the sisters.
Call records obtained from Paswan’s phone show that the accused had called Samjhana 180 times in the last 15 days prior to his arrest. It has been speculated that Paswan must have resorted to attacking the girls with acid after Samjhana did not reciprocate his calls.
The victims’ father Jadav Lal Das said he was suspicious about Paswan’s involvement in the crime. “He was a witch-doctor of the village and has brought many marriages to an end,” he told Republica, adding, “He had also tried to end Samjhana’s long-time relationship with a local boy.”
According to him, Paswan had batteries at his home whose acid could have been used in the attack.
“Our suspicion only increased after we found out that he had disposed off the batteries from his home,” he said. The victims’ father also said that the government should be helping the family to cover the medical expenses of the sisters.
Waiting for the post mortem report of his daughter’s body at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) morgue, he told Republica, “We have grown tired of saying the same thing over and over again. Will our pleas be ever heard?”
According to him, strong action should be taken against the perpetrator and the victim’s family should be assured of some relief by the government.
So far, the victims have been receiving financial support from various organizations and individuals in Kathmandu to cover the medical expenses. Last Tuesday, parliamentarian Anil Kumar Jha of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) met the family and pledged an amount of Rs 150,000 to cover the medical expenses of each of the two sisters.