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No ID card checking, cheap price tags: Acid sales continue unabated despite SC order

HYDERABAD: The Supreme Court passed an order prohibiting the over-the-counter sale of acid, and regulation of its sale across the country in 2013. The SC order states that only select stores with permits be allowed to sell acid, that too after checking ID cards of buyers. However, on the ground, the reality is very different.

Many local markets and grocery stores even in residential areas do sell acid openly. It can be procured for less than Rs 50.

Express visited a few stores in the heart of the city and found that it was extremely easy to purchase acid which is sold for cleaning purposes.

A store in SR Nagar sells a bottle of toilet cleaning acid for `25. The bottle clearly states that acid must be diluted before use, and even coming in contact with diluted acid can be corrosive on the skin.

It may be recalled that the latest NCRB data suggests Telangana is the third most notorious State for acid attacks across the country.

Even shops in Khairatabad sell acid for roughly Rs 35.

The instructions on the bottle reads, ‘Active HCL’ along with a disclaimer, ‘Avoid direct contact with clothes and body’ and ‘Any damage due to improper usage of using the acid, the company shall not be liable for any claims for the damages’.

When asked about the Supreme Court regulations on the same, and the awareness created by the recent Bollywood film Chaapaak, the shopkeeper responded, “If not acid, then it will be something else. Recently, they banned the sale of petrol in bottles, but miscreants found a way around it, and used it in the Shamshabad case. A bad mind will find other ways.”

Ideally, the store has to take the buyer’s details and report the same to the local police within three days of purchase, so that a chain of command is maintained in the procurement of this potentially life-threatening item.

Speaking on the issue, advocate and member of Human Rights Forum (HRF) Vasudha Nagraj said that the ban can be enforced only if there is the government will.

“It is actually not difficult for the government to ban acid for over-the-counter sales. The ease with which they ban shows on the internet shows that banning something is not hard if the government has the will. The women’s groups and community must itself pressurise the government for the same,” said Vasudha.

Swati Lakra, IG (Women’s Safety) said that stalking is a concern that She Teams was dealing with actively.

“We are raising awareness among women to come forward and report such instances. If the issue repeats, they must not hesitate  to  re-report the same.”

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