Actors were sent to numerous shops posing as different people – mechanic, local goon, housewife, a drunk person and others – and asked for acid.

Deepika Padukones sting op reveals how acid is still sold freely
news Acid sale Friday, January 17, 2020 - 14:29

Bikega nahi, toh phikega nahi” (If it wasn’t sold, it wouldn’t be thrown). At the core of acid attack survivor’s Laxmi Agarwal’s battle depicted in the recent Bollywood film Chhapaak was this message. The film, which starred Deepika Padukone and Vikrant Massey, was about Laxmi’s story and the legal battle to ban acid sale that she became the face of.

However, despite the 2013 Supreme Court order to curb the sale of acid, acid attacks haven’t stopped. And just how easy it continues to be to buy acid was revealed in a social experiment carried out by Deepika Padukone and her team. Actors were sent to numerous shops posing as different people – mechanic, local goon, housewife, a drunk person and others – and asked for acid. Specifically, the ‘strongest’ acid the shopkeeper could give, which could burn the skin.

In one day, the team managed to collect 24 bottles of acid from local shops.

But that’s not (arguably) the most disturbing part. It’s the ease – and in some cases, a little cajoling – with which the shopkeepers just hand over the acid to just about anybody.

A video of the sting operation of sorts was uploaded on Wednesday. It begins with Deepika saying, “If someone proposes to you and you say no, if raise your voice when someone harasses you, or if you fight for your rights... and someone throws acid on your face.” This is followed by shots of acid attack survivors. “The biggest reason behind acid attacks is acid itself. If it wasn’t sold, it wouldn’t have been thrown,” she says.

Deepika then proceeds to watch from a car the feed of her team of actors approaching shops to buy acid.

The interactions with the shopkeepers are distressing, to say the least, and it shows on Deepika’s face as well as she watches the actors buying acid. Some of the actors even describe the acid to the shopkeepers as “the one that burns your hand”. While this should have triggered suspicions or alarm in shopkeepers, most do not have such a reaction. One shopkeeper even enthusiastically answers that “100% it will burn the skin”.

In some cases, the actors insist that they want a “stronger” acid for various reasons – to clean tiles, remove rust and so on. Most shopkeepers do not ask further questions. In fact, only one of them asks for ID from the actor pretending to be a college student.

Very alarmingly, two of the shopkeepers – one of them a woman – even asks, “What will you do, are you going to throw it on someone?”

To the other shopkeeper who asks if the actor is going to throw the acid on someone, the actor replies, “How does it matter to you? You just have to give it to me. Whether I throw it on someone or not.” The shopkeeper only says, “Don’t do something untoward,” before handing over the bottle.

The video ends with the acid attack survivors listing out the rules to buy and sell acid – such as the requirement for the buyer to be above 18, those selling acid requiring a license to sell, demanding ID proof from buyers, and giving the details of the sale of acid to police, among others.

Watch the video here.