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Four Month-old Girl-Child fFghts for Life after Brutal Acid Attack

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Message Bobby Ramakant
Lucknow: In one of the most gruesome violations of child rights, a four month old baby girl has become the youngest victim of a brutal acid attack which has not only scarred her physically but will now destroy her emotional and psychological well being as well. The innocent child will be forced to live with deformities caused to her by a brutal attack for no fault of her own.

The incident took place in village Saffadirpur in district Hardoi when the family of the baby girl named Bitta, had an altercation over landed property with their neighbours.

Bitta's father Vijay Kumar lives with his four brothers in Saffadirpur. The family did not get along with their neighbours Sanjay, Ravindra, Nanhe and Anand who were in the habit of instigating trouble. To harass and trouble Vijay Kumar's family on a number of occasions, bottles had been flung by the four accused at the child when she was left sleeping on the bed of the verandah of Vijay Kumar's home.

On 5 February 2009, the four men scaled the wall while the parents were not near the child and poured acid on the baby's face. Causing serious damage to her eyes, face, chest and completely disfiguring the four month old girl.

The First Information Report (FIR) was lodged at the Mallawa Thana (police station) in Hardoi district of UP, India, but nothing was done and the culprits are still at large. The case was also referred to Child Welfare Committee in the state-capital Lucknow who shot off a letter to superintendent of Police (SP) Hardoi to look into the matter. But nothing was done--neither did they respond to the CWC letter. The National and State Women's Commission, the National and State Human Rights Commission, the Director General of Police (DGP) UP, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Lucknow, SSP Hardoi all were contacted by the baby's family but justice is yet to be brought to them.

In the meantime the culprits are still dodging the law and continue to freely roam in the village in Hardoi district. They have also threatened to harm the other girl children in Vijay Kumar's house in Hardoi as they did to baby Bitta.

The case was referred to Saaksham Foundation when the child was brought to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU) Plastic Surgery Department where the child underwent her first operation on 17 April 2009.

As per the investigation  of the case and discussions with the Head of the Department (HOD) Plastic Surgery, Dr AK Singh, the child will require continuous surgeries till she is 15 years old to make her condition manageable, which will require huge financial resources which the family is unable to afford.

A child-rights organization, Saaksham Foundation, had made an appeal on behalf of the child and her family for support so that the culprits can be brought to justice and be made to bear the cost of the medical treatment of Baby Bitta. An appeal has also been made to the Chief Minister of UP state, to release funds from her discretionary funds to cover costs of the first phase of the treatment of the baby.

As per the Article 6(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has been defined clearly that: State parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.

It also says in Article 16(1) of the convention that: No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home, correspondence nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour or reputation.

Article 16(2) of the convention further says: The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

But above all, Article 39 of the convention says, state parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social re-integration of a child victim of any form of neglect, exploitation, abuse, torture or any form of cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or armed conflict. Such recovery shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self respect and the dignity of the child.

Even the Constitution of India clearly states as per Article 39, Directive Principles of State Policy: ... that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in condition of freedom and dignity and childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against, moral and material abandonment...

As of now Baby Bitta has been denied all of the above. And she is fighting for life at the Department of plastic surgery at CSMMU. She needs our help and protection and it's our moral responsibility to stand up and fight for the rights of this innocent child.

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Bobby Ramakant is a development journalist and has been writing on development issues since 1991. Health is one of the key focus areas he writes on. He is also a World Health Organization (WHO)'s WNTD awardee for 2008
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