The Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has prepared an investigation report seeking upto 18 years of imprisonment and a fine of upto Rs 500,000 against the perpetrators involved in an acid attack incident that took place three weeks ago in Bafal of Kathmandu.
Munna Ahamed, an Indian national, had thrown acid on a 22-year-old girl while she was on her way home after buying some yogurt on July 23. Ahamed later confessed to police that he had done so at the instruction of his boss 47-year-old Mohammad Alam.
Both the perpetrators were arrested three hours after the incident from Sitapaila of Kathmandu.
The survivor of the acid attack is currently receiving treatment at the Kirtipur Burn Center.
According to MPD Spokesperson SP Somendra Singh Rathor, the police report was prepared with input from the attack survivor and it will be submitted to the District Government Attorney Office in a couple of days.
SP Rathore also informed that both the attacker and planner were being investigated under Sections 183 and 193 of the Civil Criminal (code) Act, 2074 BS. Those clauses carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 100,000 for intentional homicide, and additional seven years imprisonment and fine between Rs 100,000 – Rs 500,000 for disfiguring someone through misuse of acid.
Section 193 of the Criminal Code, which came into effect in August 2018, states that acid attackers will be fined up to Rs300,000 and/or be jailed 5-8 years depending on the seriousness of the attack. If the victim dies, the culprit faces a murder charge.
The government does not collect data on acid and burns violence and hence there are no reliable nationwide statistics regarding the prevalence of violence against women and domestic violence in Nepal.
The fact that under Section 4 of the Domestic Violence Act, women survivors can complain to three different institutions (the police, the National Women’s Commission and a “local body”) makes it more likely that complaints will be acted upon.
However, the maximum penalty provided for under Section 13 of the Act is only six months’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000 (about US$318), which makes it inappropriate as a charge in severe cases.
So, the likelihood of women victims of acid and burns violence obtaining justice has not necessarily increased despite the Domestic Violence Act.
Moreover, women survivors of violence rarely seek support from official services or institutions to obtain justice and redress. This is due, among other reasons, to the lack of trust in the police and the courts, and reliance on informal systems, including community leaders and traditional healers, according to a study by Burn Violence Survivors (BVS).
Even when people complain to the police, mediation is often used to settle a case, rather than investigation and prosecution. This culture of silence and inaction by the state has resulted in a complete lack of accountability for violence against women.
Meanwhile, there’s even less data and media coverage in Nepal regarding cases of acid violence against men. 25-year-old Ram Raja, originally from Nuwakot and currently living in Balaju of Kathmandu, was attacked with acid allegedly by his 29-year-old wife.
His wife allegedly poured acid on his face and hands while he was sleeping at around 12 midnight on 8 March, 2020.
He has undergone several surgeries while his wife has been arrested and kept in custody. Investigation into the case is still underway.
Despite repeated incidents of acid attacks in the country, there is no regulation in place to control the sale and distribution of acid.