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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mourning the death of Vinodhini ~ victim of acid and animals in society

It is  with deep and anguish that I read this morning of the sad news ~ it is there in all local newspapers, yet thought of sharing the anguish of the tragedy that befell on a young girl for no fault of hers. She promised her friends she would return to work by April, felt proud when the media hailed her for resisting her attacker, and drew strength from her kin and friends who buoyed her spirit. But 23-yearold J Vinodhini needed more to stay alive.
Times of India photo

Vinodhini, a 23-year-old girl, who suffered grievous burns three months ago in an acid attack by a man whose advances she had rejected, succumbed to the injuries on Tuesday at a private hospital here.  Doctors at the hospital said she had suffered a cardiac arrest. Plastic surgeon V. Jayaraman, who was treating her since the attack, said, “We twice tried to revive her heart. We also gave her blood. But the protein levels were low as she did not have enough nourishment.”  Whatever it was, she is no more…….     The death of acid victim J Vinodhini triggered public outcry in the Union territory of Puducherry even as the government was accused of apathy. Students, youth, women’s forums and political parties demanded harsh punishment for the youth accused of throwing acid at her for spurning his proposal.

Another victim whose heart-rending story makes us feel desolate and  which any civilized Society should ensure would never get repeated.  There is no point in telling that in a civilized society, one should reform criminals; first hand over the perpetrators the highest punishment – some advocate capital punishment; put them to solitary confinement; Outcast them and make them repent for rest of their life; take away their property – there should be no place for animals in any society.   Sadly, with the passage of time or with another crime, focus will shift – absolute nothing would have changed. 

The case of J Vinodhini was far worse; might not have received such a National outage.  She hailed from a poor family, whose parents  sold their small plot of ancestral property to finance her B.Tech in an Engg college in Karaikal, in Puducherry.  Her father worked as a watchman; she completed her education, was the ray of hope for all her family – got a job pursuing her dreams in a private company in Chennai…………………… sadly, all dreams were shattered on that fateful day in Nov 14  when Vinodhini suffered an acid attack by a spurned suitor that has left her blind in both her eyes.  The accused was identified as Suresh Kumar, alias Appu, 32, an engineering diploma holder who runs a business renting out concrete mixer machine. Kumar had reportedly expressed an interest in Vinodhini, after which she had informed her parents.  The victim’s father had even  complained to the local police, who summoned Kumar and issued a warning. He was made to give a written assurance that he would not trouble Vinodhini.  On that day, when she had gone home for Deepavali, the accused reportedly threw acid on her. Vinodhini suffered 40 per cent burns in the acid attack, including injuries to her face, chest and hand. Both her eyes were severely damaged. Jayapal and Padmanabhan were also injured in the attack. Kumar himself suffered 10 per cent burn injuries.

She underwent untold misery and suffering for 3 months as Vinodhini was rushed to a local hospital, from where she was later shifted to JIPMER hospital. From there, she was referred to the Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital in Chennai for specialised treatment.

People may shout from rooftops on gender equality, more freedom, power and influence for women, that too in every aspect of public life: politics, police, administration, education, health, judiciary… and more importantly, in decision-making roles.  But can any Society allow such victims to remain in silence and suffer.  No point in simply organizing candle rallies or writing about this; the civil Society should hang its head in shame, think, devise and implement some strong measure to ensure that these do not happen to any other unfortunate person. 

Today, upon knowing her death, acid attack appears to be the most heinous crime and the assailant should remorselessly be given the maximum punishment – immediately

With deep sorrow – S. Sampathkumar.

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