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Do You Support Disability Rights? – @stopacidattacks #IndiaIsAbled

Do you support disability rights? Could you take a moment to sign the petition for Promodini Roul? What sort of punishment should be meted out to culprits who commit acid attacks?

Promodini Roul has not been able to touch water to her face for the last two years, but that’s not the biggest of her problems.

She has 18 percent vision in her eyes, and for more than a decade, she’s been coping with the fallout of 85 percent burns all over her body. All of this, because a 35-year-old soldier would not take no for an answer from a then 17-year old Promodini, and poured acid on her.

Promodini goes by the name Rani, and I think it suits her. It means Queen, and she has been an absolute warrior queen in her fight for justice.

After her attack, she did not receive first aid quickly and the acid ate into her, resulting in severe burns and an utter devastation of her body. She sank into coma, and for weeks fought for her life in intensive care. She then spent five years in agony and paralysis on the bed. She could not see, could not do anything by herself, nor stand on her feet. Her attacker was a soldier, and he was not arrested. The case was closed in 2012.

Rani did not give up. She fought to recover with unrelenting support from her mother, and continued with physiotherapy. By 2017, an eye operation returned some of her sight, and she could continue her campaign for justice. The chief minister of her state intervened, resulting in the arrest of the culprit. The case is ongoing, with a verdict to be handed down after the covid lock-down ends in India.

The lock-down has not been easy on her–she needs to travel for eye treatments every two months and that has not been possible. She is supported by her fiance Saroj Sahoo, who met her while she was in hospital in 2014 and has stood by her ever since. They got engaged in 2018, and hope to marry soon. All the procedures she goes through are very expensive and she is supported in these by the Chhanv foundation, with their campaign Stop Acid Attacks.

They have now started a new petition to the government of India: #IndiaIsAbled–to fight for the rights of the disabled.

Acid attack survivors like Rani face a gamut of physical challenges and need treatments. The current lockdown has put them under impossible financial pressure as well as a lack of medical support. Rani has to take steroids in order for her body to be able to accept a new cornea, and her compromised immunity leaves her extremely vulnerable. She still has surgeries pending in order to restore proper movement.

For those who do not speak Hindi, here is what she says in the video below:

Acid attack survivors like me are disabled, and in the current situation, disability rights are being overlooked. I might be able to survive without food for a while, but the problems with my treatment are many, and if I’m not able to get the procedures done on time, I will lose the battles I have fought for so long. We have started the India is Abled campaign for the support of disability rights: please sign the petition, and help us out.

Here’s hoping you can take a minute to sign the petition to support strong, badass women like Promodini Roul.

For those who have read You Beneath Your Skin, a lot of the story borrows form the tales of survivors, and having met so many of them now, I can vouch for their grit and integrity in sheer defiance of the unspeakable odds they have battled. (Here’s a post that speaks about Rupali, another survivor.)

Promodini remains associated with Chaanv foundation, and has found employment as a social worker now. She also campaigns for the rights of acid attacks survivors and the the disabled.

As I ended my call with Promodini, her voice broke as she said, “You know, I’m happy otherwise. We have problems, but none so big that we can’t cope with. There are 10 other survivors where I live, and we are able to cope, if only we are treated as equals.”

Do you support disability rights? Could you take a moment to sign the petition for Promodini Roul? What sort of punishment should be meted out to culprits who commit acid attacks?

Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I signed the petition … disabled people deserve all the support we can give them. Especially people who are cruelly hurt by completely ignorant and selfish people … I hope the soldier gets due justice … and that Rani improves as much as possible. Good luck to her and to her fiance for all they’re doing – stay safe – Hilary

  • G. J. Jolly says:

    Of course, I signed the petition. Being disabled myself, I speak out about disable rights when possible. If you’re interested, there’s information about my disability on my About page of my blog.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I have Glynis. Thank you for all that you are, and all that you do.

  • Damyanti,

    What a horrible thing to have happen to anyone of any age! This tears at my heart so for this poor woman. I hope the person responsible for this crime was apprehended and dealt with properly but honestly imprisonment can never right the wrong this man did to this young girl. I am glad that she found someone special to share her life with. Do stay healthy and well with this pandemic underway. Hopefully, normal life will return soon for us all. Blessings to you, my dear!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Cathy, it is indeed heartbreaking what happened to Rani, and I’m wondering what else we can do to help her.

      Thanks for the kind wishes–I do not know when normal will return and what it will look like, but I sure hope we all survive this together. Blessings to you too, kind friend.

  • Damyanti, I’ve seen a lot of disfigurements among beggars in Asia and thought I could handle it by now. But this picture refreshes those images and makes me so angry at those who caused the disfigurement. Sometimes it is done to promote sympathy so people part with their money but too many times it is done out of anger. I believe those who cause those deformities should suffer the same fate in law.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I do not know what justice would serve in this case–it is not for me to say, but no punishment seems enough.

  • JoAnna says:

    I don’t usually sign petitions, but I signed this one. I’m thankful the “soldier” has been arrested and hope justice will be served. He should spend the rest of his life contributing some how to Rani’s medical bills at the very least. Thank you for being a voice on this issue.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I hope Rani receives the justice she seeks, though I fear it might be too little under Indian law–a few years of imprisonment. I do think he should be made to pay all of Rani’s medical bills and more. Thank you for making an exception and signing this petition.

  • I very, very happily signed the petition.
    Hooray for Rani, and all the myriad of other determined survivors.
    I cannot think of any punishment which would fit this crime. Perhaps a sentence of being forced to care for some of the victims? Twenty four hours a day, which is the same length of time they are condemned to live with the pain and the disability.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for signing the petition. I too cannot think of a punishment that befits this crime.

  • Heart-breaking. Signed.

  • JT Twissel says:

    It’s so appalling that men are allowed to get away with this kind of crime. Disgusting.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Acid violence is primarily carried out by men, but there are attacks on women by women, some of them family members. A lot of it defeats human understanding.

  • Stu says:

    I signed the petition, and I shared this on my FB page. Twitter as well. Reading your book and this. It just makes me sad at the moral collapse (if they even had any) of those who think it is their right to do this to women.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks so much, Stuart for the support and the shares. Human nature is capable of incredible compassion and unbelievable cruelty. Having spoken to so many of the survivors now, I try and focus on what can be done to support them, and to prevent such assaults occurring in future. There’s too much rage that wells up otherwise, and I often do not know how to cope with that.

  • fenlandphil says:

    What is the matter with people? How on earth could anyone think that pouring acid over somebody is in any way acceptable?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It is hard to understand human cruelty. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope you’ll consider signing the petition to help.

  • DutchIl says:

    Thanks for sharing!!.. I read the post and signed the petition.. it is sad that elements of world’s societies are not civilized in spite of their claims.. I believe Promodini Roul, and others should be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve and given help should it be ask… 🙂

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for always being your kind self, Larry, and for signing the petition.

      If you think the cause worthwhile, please share it with your networks so that they could sign the petition as well.