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RR Patil meets acid attack victim's kin, promises CBI probe

A day after Preethi Rathi succumbed to grave injuries she had sustained in a shocking acid attack at Bandra Terminus, Home Minister RR Patil assured the distraught family that a CBI probe would be conducted in the case, starting today. The leader sat down for a 20-minute-long conversation with Patil yesterday. The meeting was also attended by five other acid attack victims, who are part of the Stop Acid Attacks (SAA) campaign.

The meeting took place at around 1 pm at Patil’s Malabar Hill residence yesterday. Samshed Singh, Preethi’s relative, said, “The home minister assured us that a CBI probe would be started on Monday to accelerate the process and nab the culprit. We feel slightly better, now that our demand has been met.”

Though they had refused to receive Preethi’s body from JJ Hospital on Saturday as a mark of protest, the family will now be flying back to Delhi, where her last rites will be performed. The members of the SAA campaign accompanied Rathi’s family to the meeting to provide them with moral support. While one of them hails from Bangalore, the four others are from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. All of them have been victims of acid attacks in the past.

“We decided to support the family and give them moral support after their daughter’s demise,” said Alok Dixit, who initiated the SAA campaign to support acid attack survivors. “Initially, we weren’t allowed to enter the home minister’s residence, but after sending him a request, his security guards let the five other acid attack victims inside. They had travelled all the way to the city to show solidarity with the family,” added Dixit. SAA supports 20 acid attack survivors based in different parts of the country.

Tragedy struck the Rathi family on May 2, when a masked man accosted 25-year-old Preethi and flung acid at her as soon as she got off the New Delhi-Mumbai Garib Rath Express at Bandra Terminus. She had arrived in the city to start working as a lieutenant nurse in the city’s army hospital. After struggling for her life for a painful month, Preethi died in the ICU of Bombay hospital on Saturday.

Her mother is still in a shock and has been unresponsive for the past two days, after refusing to eat or drink anything. Following Preethi’s death, the railway police booked the accused Pawan Gehlaun (24) for murder. However, they haven’t managed to gather much evidence against him. He was arrested last month after Preethi told the police that she had seen him at Delhi railway station. 

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