India: Crackdown on acid sales as attacks continue to rise
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India: Crackdown on acid sales as attacks continue to rise

IN his ongoing campaign to crackdown on crime, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed all district magistrates to strictly enforce the rules for the storage and sale of acid commonly used in attacks.

According to News Nation, a circular was issued on Sunday to all districts in the state declaring it to be mandatory for all acid traders to furnish a stock report to the sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) within 15 days.

The circular, which came from Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar, said:

“If during inspection by the SDM, it is found incorrect report has been submitted, then the entire stock be sealed, and Rs 50,000 (US$775) penalty will be imposed on the seller.”

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Every licence holder is also required to maintain comprehensive records of sale, detailing the name and address of each buyer along with the quantity and reason for purchase.

District magistrates are also expected to ensure the inspection report of each acid trader is sent to the state home department by the seventh day of every month.

In 2013, India increased the penalty for throwing acid on a person to not less than 10 years in prison, and limited the sale of certain over-the-counter acids.

But according to the Acid Survivors Foundation of India (ASFI), attacks have continued to rise.

In 2015, ASFI recorded 249 attacks nationwide, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. This number, however, is likely to be an underestimation as they rely on a network of survivors and hospitals to gather the data.

The state of Uttar Pradesh suffered the most attacks making up 24 percent of the national total in 2015.

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Acid attacks are a form of violence primarily directed against women, who make up 80 percent of the victims, according to ASFI. Motivation behind such attacks can vary; common ones include family disputes, domestic violence, refusal of proposals, land or money disputes, and suspicion of infidelity.

Adityanath has taken the issue seriously since he took office last month choosing to meet victims and discuss the matter with enforcement officials.

On March 24, he visited a gang-rape and acid attack survivor who was allegedly forced to drink acid during her prolonged attack aboard a train.

Following the meeting, he called for the immediate arrest of the perpetrators and awarded the 45-year-old woman Rs100,00 (US$ 1,550) in compensation.