In a country like India where gender-violence in the form of acid attacks is a reality, there seems to be no strong implementation of laws regulating the sale of acid. And shedding light on this laxity of law, actress Deepika Padukone recently undertook something of a 'sting' in Mumbai to bring out the depth of the problem.
The incident follows the release of her film Chhapaak where she portrays a real-life acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. While the graphic depiction of the attack in the film may have shocked many, it did not alter the reality in the streets where the sale of the corrosive and illegal liquid continues unabated.
Padukone along with team Chhapak, took to the streets to conduct a social experiment on the ease of buying acids from shops, an act which is in outright violation of the laws.
The actress took to Instagram to share the video saying, "Won’t Buy Won’t Sell - A Chhapaak Social Experiment. Acid has corroded many lives, crushed many dreams, dashed many hopes and scarred many futures."
The video opens with Deepika saying, "Agar koi aapko propose karey aur aap mana karde, kisikey pareshan karney pe awaaz uthaye, yah apne haq k liye larey... aur aap pein koi acide fek dey. (If someone proposes to you and you say a no, if someone harasses and you raise your voice, or if you fight for your rights...and then someone throws acid on you).”
The video shows different actors playing the roles of a student, a drunkard, a wife, a plumber etc and walking into different shops in Mumbai to buy acid bottles.
What came off disturbing was the ease with which shopkeepers sold acid after asking casual questions like "Why do you need it, need to throw at someone?" to which one customer even answers, "It's my perosnal matter, you just give."
Despite warnings that the 'tezaab'(acid) might be too acidic and even burn someone's skin, the buyers show little interest in the caution by displaying a clearly violent intention.
Neverthless, only one shopkeeper showed the wisdom to ask for an ID card as per the law. The actor, who posed as a student refused to show his ID, to which the shopkeeper refused to sell it.
But that's just one out of the many. In another incident, a buyer's questions triggered suspicion forcing the shopkeeper to raise the need of an ID card. Well, the possession of an ID mattered little because the bottle was sold anyway.
At the end of the video, Deepika shows how to her utter disbelief the crew members were successful in buying a total of 24 bottles in a day.
According to Supreme Court's ruling under the Poison Act,1919, buying and selling of acid need to be done in accordance to certain rules.
In case you too are not aware of the laws, these acid attack victims come together at the end of the video to explain you the rules — the buyers need to be 18 years or above, a photo ID of the buyer is required, the buyer's address proof also needs to be submitted, sellers must have a license to sell and sellers must provide a report on the amount of acid sale to the police etc.
Deepika urges everyone to also take the onus of immediately reporting an illegal acid sale because it goes without saying "Acid bikta hai, isiliye phikta hai (Acid sells and hence acid is thrown)".