A 750 ml bottle of nitric acid was available for Rs 40, making it easily accessible to practically anybody.
SC ban defied, acid sale rampant in Agra
A shopkeeper in Shahganj locality claimed that he can fulfill an order for 500 litres of acid on any given day. The shopkeeper didn’t have any licence for selling acid. In the city’s Rawat Para main market, acid bottles were in fact on display outside shops. They were also available at a grocery shop in front of the Sheroes hangout café, ironically run by acid attack survivors.
Meanwhile, Agra Police claimed they have not received any formal communication from Delhi Police regarding the Delhi case. Commissioner of police Preetinder Singh said that directions have been issued to put a tab on the direct sale of acid and other inflammable substances. In 2013, the Supreme Court banned over-the-counter sale of acid across India in the wake of rising acid attacks.
The SC also instructed the state governments to issue acid-sale licences to select retailers who were directed to keep a record of those buying acid, after checking their ID proof. Nine years on, one can still buy a bottle of acid, online or at a kirana store, without any verification. “Following the apex court orders, the ministry of home affairs issued an advisory to all states on how to regulate acid sales and framed the Model Poisons Possession and Sale Rules, 2013 under the Poisons Act, 1919.
However, the advisory has so far not come into implementation and acid sale continues. There is a grocery shop right in front of our café that sells acid without a licence. This makes a mockery of the continued efforts of those who are working tirelessly for the cause. It is high time now that the authorities take stringent action,” said Ajay Tomar, PRO of Chhanv Foundation, a nonprofit backing the Sheroes initiative.
As per National Crime Records Bureau data, 1,362 acid attacks were reported in India in the last five years. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal consistently record the highest number of such cases, generally accounting for nearly 50% of all cases in the country year on year. “In case the authorities don’t take immediate action , survivors working at the café have decided to launch a campaign to spread awareness among shopkeepers selling acid,” said Ashish Shukla, founder of Sheroes café and director of Chhanv Foundation. District magistrate Navneet Singh Chahal said, “We are taking time-bound action to stop unauthorised sale of acid. Those found flouting norms will not be spared.”