Yet another life was ruined by an acid attack as a man had the chemical thrown on him on Friday at a place where people usually seek justice for such cases; the City Courts.
Forty-year-old Mohammad Shahbaz was at the court premises — supposedly to settle a family dispute — when a man named Mohammad Shahzad emerged from the crowd and threw acid on him. Although the police said that the motive behind the attack was vengeance, Shahbaz’s family seemed reluctant to discuss the circumstances surrounding the incident. “He was just trying to solve a family matter,” is all that his wife Farah Shahbaz said, before bursting into tears.
The victim was instantly taken to the Burns Ward of the Civil Hospital, where doctors declared that he had suffered 45 percent burn injuries. With his arms covered in bandages and foam forming around the mouth, Shahbaz screamed in agony at the Burns Ward, while the women of the family were running from pillar to post in an effort to get the relevant documents filled.
The police managed to arrest the suspect and carried out the initial investigation. The law enforcers said that around ten months ago, Shahbaz threw acid on Shahzad’s brother, Sakhawat, after the two got into a dispute over a marriage proposal concerning another relative.
“Shahzad exacted his vengeance today and threw acid on Shahbaz’s face,” an officer confirmed.
With acid being one of the cheapest weapons to acquire, “revenge attacks” are on the rise. The nature of the attacks was also changing and while previously, most of the victims were women, this was the fifth case of a man being admitted that the Incharge of the Burns Centre, Dr Ehmer-Al-Ibran, received in the last six months.
In one case, a wife threw acid on her husband, while another incident saw two friends attacked as they were riding home on a motorbike. Also, a few weeks ago, a boy named Ali Raza was doused with acid when he tried to protect his sister.
Last year, out of the 68 chemical burns cases that the Burns Centre received, 14 were acid attacks based on family disputes. Dr Ehmer blamed the low conviction rate for the rising number of cases.
“People know that if they use a gun, they might go to jail for the rest of their lives, but in an acid attack cases there are hardly any convictions,” he observed.
The doctor could only recall one case in the entire country where a person was convicted in an acid attack and sentenced to 30 years, along with a fine of Rs30,000. “I have heard of no such conviction in Sindh,” Dr Ahmer concluded.