Mumbai acid attack victim claims authorities want Rs 50,000 bribe

Acid attack victim Shabho Sheikh claims the Legal Services Authority is demanding Rs 50,000 as bribe

Shabho Sheikh (fifth from left) alleged that the Legal Services Authority demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 to clear her documents. Pic/Sneha KharabeShabho Sheikh (fifth from left) alleged that the Legal Services Authority demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 to clear her documents. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
Shabho Sheikh (fifth from left) alleged that the Legal Services Authority demanded a bribe of Rs 50,000 to clear her documents. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

There appears to be no respite for a 21-year-old woman, who fell victim to an acid attack when she was just one month old. Victim Shabho Sheikh, who has been running from pillar to post to get the compensation that she is eligible for, claimed that the committee that decides on the eligibility has demanded a bribe. The victim’s friend, Daulat Khan, another acid attack victim, has filed a complaint against the officials at Bandra police station.

Friend Daulat Khan has filed a complaint against the officials
Friend Daulat Khan has filed a complaint against the officials

As per the Supreme Court’s guidelines, an acid attack victim has to be given Rs 3 lakh compensation within a month. But, over two decades after the acid attack, the compensation money still eludes Sheikh.

“On October 6, I went to the Legal Services Authority to claim compensation. One of the officials, who has been repeatedly refusing my claim citing lack of documents, asked for Rs 50,000 to clear the papers,” Sheikh said.

“I was on my mother’s lap when my father threw acid on her. Some of it also fell on me. My mother died after that and my father was jailed. I don’t have the FIR copy and the documents of my first medical treatment,” Sheikh added.
Khan, who accompanied Sheikh to help her get the compensation, said that she has seen several victims being harassed by the authorities.

The Legal Services Authority, however, refuted the charges. “This is just an allegation. The committee that decides on the compensation comprises the district chairman, social worker and secretary. If anyone has an issue, they can contact the superintendent, who heads the body,” said a judicial officer seeking anonymity.

Satya Narayan Choudhary, deputy commissioner of police, Zone XI, said that he was unaware of the issue. “But, I will look into the matter,” he said.

Shailesh Sadekar, an advocate with the Bombay High Court said that the police should have filed an FIR in the case. “ Firstly, it involves the demand for bribe and secondly, harassment of acid attack victims,” he said.

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