These are the horrific burns left on the face of a three-year-old acid attack survivor after his mother’s stalker allegedly arranged the attack for revenge.
Little Aditya Raj, from a slum in Gurugram, Haryana, northern India, has endured three surgeries since he was attacked with acid in December last year leaving his face scarred for life.
Aditya was kidnapped by his mother’s stalker after she refused to leave her husband and marry him.
Mother Soni, 26, a housewife said: ‘I still cannot get over that day. My son was found in a dustbin with his face melting, who does that? It has been 10 months but it still feels like yesterday. I have seen my child suffer every day since. It is unforgettable.’
Since news of Aditya made headlines the government and an NGO stepped forward to help fund Aditya’s recovery and treatment.
Shaheen Malik, the national co-ordinator of the Human Rights Law Network, said: ‘There has never been any compensation policy for male acid attack survivors in the past, even male children. All policies only help female acid attack survivors. We filed a request in court in order to change the policy and request that Aditya to be helped. Fortunately, our plea was heard and we were allotted a compensation sum for Aditya.’
Aditya has been treated by Dr Avtar Singh Bath, a senior consultant, at BL Kapoor Hospital, in New Delhi, one of India’s largest private hospitals, and has operated on his eye and nose.
Dr Bath said: ‘The child had suffered 30pc burns when he came to us, with the major affected area on his eyes and nose. Thankfully we were able to save his eye with surgery on his upper eyelid, and a second operation on his lower eyelid. It was important to operate on his eyelid first as the attack had left his eyelids contracted and he could not close it.
‘The third surgery was done on his nose. We reconstructed the side of his nose by taking tissue from his forehead. He is recovering well and we expect to do another operation on his right cheek next month, where we will take skin from his abdomen.’
Father, Jamna Prasad, 34, a daily labourer, believes his little boy is blessed. He said: ‘I could never have imagined him being treated at a private hospital, let alone such a big hospital. I could never afford that. I have been blessed with miracles. Firstly, it was a miracle for him to have survived the attack. And then it’s a miracle that we have been given all the financial and medical help. It is unbelievable.’
I could never have imagined him being treated at a private hospital, let alone such a big hospital. I could never afford that. I have been blessed
Although Jamna is thankful his family is getting the help they need, they still live in fear of the attackers.
Soni had been harassed by neighbor Mangal, 27, since the beginning of last year. Despite knowing that she was already married he repeatedly asked Soni to leave her husband and marry him. In a bid to escape the harassment, the family even moved districts for a fresh start, in July last year. But on December 13 Adityawent missing while he was playing outside the family home. And Soni quickly feared the worst, before calling police. Aditya was found crying in a roadside dustbin the next morning by a passing truck driver but his face had already melted by the acid burning his flesh for many hours.
Govind Ram Das, 20, a farmer, from Gurugram, was arrested for the attack and is still in police custody awaiting trial. But Mangal, 27, is still walking free.
Jamna added: ‘There were two involved in the crime; one who attacked my son with acid, and another who plotted the attack. While the attacker is still in jail, the mastermind and the stalker plotted the attack, and is still walking free.
‘He has not made any contact with us since the attack, but I worry what will happen in the future? I still live in fear for my child and wife because he could come back anytime and kill my entire family.’
While Aditya recovered in hospital Soni gave birth to another baby boy in January this year. They named him Aman, and he has become Aditya’s companion and best friend.
‘Aditya loves his little brother,’ Jamna added. ‘He has been a huge help in Aditya’s recovery. And they cannot be apart for a minute throughout the day. It’s beautiful to see him being so loving towards his younger brother but I hope he never compares himself with him as they grow up. Aditya will be left with the scars forever but I hope his little brother will help him feel ok about it. I hope their bond lasts forever and the two continue to love each other.’
Although doctors believe surgery next month will be the final operation for some time, they fear Aditya will require further surgery when he’s older. Dr Bath explained: ‘The surgery next month will be the last one for some years but he might have to have a few more when he’s grown up. The tissue transplant is for a child and it might not grow as the child grows. So we will need to monitor him and watch his progress. It depends how his skin grows. But it looks like he will forever need medical assistance.’