Acid! Just a vial of it was all it took to change my life and turn my world upside down.
And the bearer of it?
A soldier. A man in uniform who took an oath of service before self.
What an irony!
It was in 2009. Santosh Kumar Bedanta, a 28-year-old paramilitary officer in a camp in Tirtol, Odisha, near my college, had approached me. I politely said no to him. After all, I was just 16. I was in school. I had to work hard to make my dreams come true. Later, he met my parents, who gave him the same response. But Santosh couldn’t take it.
How dare she? What he did next was nothing short of heinous.
I was going home with my cousin, riding pillion on his bicycle. All of a sudden, two men on a motorbike came next to us and poured acid over my head, I recall in horror. My cousin didn’t know what to do. No one there had seen an acid attack before.
I was rushed to a hospital but lacked the initial first aid. I was burnt beyond recognition, lost my eyesight and was left paralysed. The case was reopened after I met the Odisha CM, Naveen Patnaik. Santosh, who was then at a military camp in Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested in November 2017. Though he tried to abscond, the police finally arrested him in West Bengal. Today, he is behind
bars with a non-bailable sentence.
I left Orissa and started working at Sheroes Hangout Café with my mother, Kavita Roul. We were earning enough money to find hope for the future while I strived to recover my vision. Earlier in 2014, I went through an eye treatment at Dr. LV Prasad Eye Hospital in Bhubaneshwar. Due to lack of funds, I couldn’t continue.
In 2016, our campaigners gained some grip with the state government of Uttar Pradesh. The same year, I got along with other survivors who also had acid injuries, like me. I could attend the eye treatment at the Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai. I had finally recovered my vision after the last surgery. I gained some sight of the world around me and decided to tell my mother
to stay back and help run our family in Orissa.
This is Pramodini’s story. She is now a motivational speaker. She has been doing campaigns for Stop Acid Attacks and Stop Child Sexual Abuse. She has done PGDCA, is a classical dancer and a writer.
She got rehabilitated by CHHANV Foundation. She has worked in Delhi for two months, Lucknow office for seven months, Agra Office for three months, Udaipur Office for six months, Noida office for six months and in CLAP (Committee for Legal Aid to Poor), Odisha for three months.
• ISD Women’s Award
• Prerna Award (Otv)
• State Award – International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018
• JD Annual Design Awards 2018
• Human Library Bhubaneshwar
• Odisha Mirror Award 2019