Deepika Padukone starrer Chhapaak, a story inspired from Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor, will be released on Friday, January 10, 2020.
Who is Laxmi Agarwal?
Born on 1st June, 1990, in Delhi, Laxmi was a regular girl from middle-class family, with dreams and hopes in her eyes to become a singer. Her life came crashing down in 2005, at the age of 15 when 32-year-old Naeem Khan, an acquaintance, approached her for marriage. Laxmi’s rejection to marry him angered him and he continued to stalk her. Despite Laxmi’s multiple refusals, Khan did not back off.
One day in 2005, when she was in Delhi’s Khan Market, Naeem threw acid on her face. She lay on the ground, crying, in pain till a kind taxi driver stopped by and took her to Safdarjung hospital.
She was in hospital for months and underwent multiple surgeries.
The face that once was
Laxmi did not see her face after the attack for months. There were no mirrors. In her words, when she saw her face for the first time after the bandages were off, she was devastated. “I had no face to speak of,” she had told a media outlet.
Laxmi faced social boycott where people would taunt her and speak ill of her and her family. She was blamed for the acid attack on her, especially by women. At 16, that was all too much. Traumatised, she even contemplated suicide.
Tough times never last, tough people do. In 2006, she filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court of India seeking total ban on sale of acid. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and imposed restrictions on sale of acid. She has been one of the crusaders who has been fighting to end acid attacks in India. While a lot has been done to bring awareness about acid attacks, especially on women, there is still a lot more that needs to be done.
Awards and recognition
At 28 now, Laxmi has received a 2014 International Women of Courage award by the then US First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2013, Laxmi became a part of the acid attack movement after activists Alok Dixit and Ashish Shukla started the ‘Stop Acid Attacks’ campaign. It has now developed into Chhanv Foundation through which Laxmi has reached out to thousands of victims of acid attack and assisted them int treatment and legal aid. Acid attack survivors are now given legal rights under the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.