I want to ask my attacker why he did this to me: Ritu, an acid attack survivor speaks

I wanted a career in sports or in the police. I don't think it will be possible anymore.
I want to ask my attacker why he did this to me: Ritu, an acid attack survivor speaks
I want to ask my attacker why he did this to me: Ritu, an acid attack survivor speaks
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The News Minute | December 24, 2014 | 09:34 am ISTI am Ritu and I hail from Rohtak in Haryana. I am an acid attack survivor. That fateful day I had left my home for a game of volleyball nearby. I have played on a state level. People near the chowk were preparing for a jagran (a religious or spiritual gathering). The road was quite crowded.Two men in a bike approached me. And then before I could suspect anything, the pillion rider doused my face with acid. It all happened so quickly. I however, remember seeing the person responsible for the attack, sitting in a car on another side of the road, watching me as I seethed in pain.My aunt’s son did this to me. He paid some people Rs 1, 25,000 to throw acid on me. Why he did so, I really do not know. Our families had some property dispute, but that had been continuing for quite some time then.I don’t think any survivor of an acid attack would want to meet their assaulter. But I would like to face mine some day, and ask him, “Why did you do this to me?”I was just seventeen then.I also remember the pain- severe, extreme, unbearable. The acid had gone inside my eyes and my vision had blurred. I screamed, asking for help, and some acid entered my mouth.No one came forward to help. I knew they saw me. And yet not a single person would come near me.Finally my brother, who was one of the organisers of the jagaran, heard my wail. I was taken to a hospital where I was to spend the next two months of my life.The only constant was the agony.The acid damaged my left eye completely. I can only see from my right eye now. I have had six operations so far. And I am yet to undergo several more operations in the future, including that of the lips, nose and forehead. I have no idea when will this be all over.After I returned from the hospital, I was completely depressed. Nothing felt right, I was so disturbed. At times I contemplated whether it would have been better if I had died in the attack. Wouldn’t it have been so much easier?I never showed my face to anybody, I was too embarrassed.I have come a long way since then. I started working with Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) around seven months ago*. Today, I am an independent woman. I work in She-roes, a café in Agra, run by acid attack survivors. I do not use a veil. People do stare at times, but I have got used to it.( Ritu sharing a light moment with Rupa (right) ) I campaign against such attacks, because I believe that by spreading awareness, we can make a difference. We can change mindsets, which is what we need to do now. And I am not stopping till that happens.I wanted my assaulters to get a death sentence initially, or that they too should have acid poured on their faces, just what they did to me. The anger has since cooled down. I have realised if I were to demand any of the two forms of punishment for them, there would absolutely be no difference between the criminals and me.Whatever punishment they do get now, I hope they will never ever think of repeating the same mistake.Before the horrific attack changed my life, I wanted to pursue a profession in sports or even in the police department. The attack has caused me harm in more than one way. I tried playing after the attack, but it isn’t the same. With no sight in one eye, getting into police too may not be possible anymore.This year I ‘celebrated’ the second anniversary of my attack. My family at SAA even brought me a cake. I am trying to put it behind me.But for now I am satisfied. I have a job now. And I am living.I like painting. I am trying to work towards pursuing it further. *Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) is a Delhi-based NGO, that campaigns against acid violence and assists in the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors. ( At the time of speaking to Ritu, she was headed to an interview with a news channel. She had just received news that a court had just announced the sentence for her assaulters. Later in the day, she would take part in a protest against an acid attack which had taken place near Lodhi Gardens, that very morning. )( All images courtesy: Stop Acid Attacks & Acid Attack Fighter Ritu Facebook Page )Tweet

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