The Telegraph
Thursday , January 23 , 2014
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Govt job for gutsy Sonali

The Hemant Soren government has stolen a march over Arjun Munda, Shibu Soren and Madhu Koda by offering acid attack victim Sonali Mukherjee a Grade III clerical job with the Bokaro deputy commissioner’s office.

Bokaro DC Uma Shankar Singh on Wednesday told Sonali that the appointment letter was ready and the “CM will hand it to me when I come to Jharkhand”.

Sonali, back in Delhi from the Congress youth meet called by Rahul Gandhi in Bangalore on January 11, said that she had wept tears of joy over the job offer.

Calling from New Delhi, where she is undergoing a series of reconstructive surgeries, Sonali told The Telegraph: “I have been offered clerical job at Bokaro DC office according to my qualifications. The nature of work is not very strenuous. But I will do justice to it.”

“The way the DC told me that giving me a job was not charity or obligation, it was a reward for a brave and deserving girl who opened society’s eyes to an evil practice, made me most happy,” she said.

“I thank the chief minister for his gesture. Thanks are due to my parents, administrative officials, doctors, supporters, the media and everyone who has helped me overcome the toughest patch of my life,” she said, not forgetting to acknowledge The Telegraph for repeatedly taking up her cause.

Now 28, Sonali added she would always work for women’s empowerment.

Sonali, who has taken up the cause of acid attack victims like her, has been a strong voice behind the demand to institutionalise strict guidelines for over-the-counter sale of acid, which the Supreme Court has also recently ordered.

On April 22, 2003, Sonali, then a pretty 17-year-old college student and NCC cadet in Dhanbad, was “punished” with acid by three youths, because she had spurned one of them.

Virtually blind, her face corroded away, right ear melted, she and her family went through years of anguish.

Attackers Tapas Mitra and Sanjay Paswan were briefly jailed but came out on bail, the third, Brahmadev Hajra, was let off as he was a juvenile then.

Her parents were left struggling to bear her medical costs by selling their land and jewellery. Practically penniless, they received no help from the government.

Her broken-hearted family had also shifted from Dhanbad to Bokaro.

Her case attracted the attention of the government and global media when she pleaded for euthanasia in 2012. She frankly said she had no wish to live.

Though Jharkhand government was slow to react back then, offers of money and medical help came from many NGOs, superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s reality show Kaun Banega Crorepati invited her and acclaimed New Delhi plastic surgeon Anant Sinha offered free reconstructive surgeries. She has appeared on television and walked on the ramp.

When contacted, Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh said he personally called up Sonali. “Yes, a Grade III clerical job is waiting for her. Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren will be glad to hand her the appointment letter,” he said.