Sonali Mukherji in Bokaro on Saturday. (Pankaj Singh)
Sonali Mukherji remembers that April 22 night, the night when everything went dark for her and her family.
Nearly 10 years after being targeted by her jilted “lover” and two of his accomplices, the acid continues to seep into the life and corrode the happiness of the Mukherji family.
Sonali (27), who came to Bokaro on Saturday to seek financial help from the state women’s commission, has been living with a tale of horror.
“The acid attack took away my eyesight. But that was just the beginning of trauma for me and my family. My father Chandidas Mukherjee was employed with a private company in Dhanbad at the time of the incident. He had to quit his job to be by my side after the attack and my family shifted to our ancestral home in Kasmar,” Sonali told The Telegraph outside the women’s commission office in Bokaro.
She quickly added that ever since the attack, she and her family had been living in fear of a rerun of the 2003, more so now with her tormentors out on bail.
“We are scared but helpless. They have threatened to attack us again. My family has sent my younger brother away to live with my maternal uncles,” Sonali said.
The trio — Telipara resident Tapas Mitra, whose marriage proposal had been turned down by Sonali, and his aides Sanjay Paswan and Bramhadev Hazra — had been arrested by the police five days after the attack. They had managed to get into the Bhelatand residence of the girl through the terrace. They fled after pouring sulphuric acid on Sonali, and injuring her younger sister Soma, who happened to be with her. The victim’s father who tried to catch the attackers also suffered burns.
All the three youths were sentenced to nine years of imprisonment by the court of the district and session judge. They later managed to secure bail from the high court.
“I receive Rs 200 per month from the government as disability allowance for being physically challenged. The entire amount is used to buy medicines. The acid was so strong that I still feel pain in my eyes,” Sonali, who suffered 65 per cent burns, said.
She added that apart from her disability allowance, her grandmother received Rs 400 per month as old age pension.
“That, along with the little that my father manages to earn working as a priest, keeps the fire burning in our kitchen,” she said.
The victim, who could not meet state women’s commissioner Hemlata S. Mohan on Saturday, said that she would come back to seek protection for her family later.