Harold Jaffe’s Dispatches from India – November 14, 2015

Acid

A 23-year-old Russian tourist sustained severe burns on her face
and neck after a man whose marriage proposal she allegedly
spurned attacked her with acid Friday morning in Varanasi.

Police said the tourist, Daya Yurieva, arrived in Varanasi five days
ago and was a paying guest at the Hriday Lal Srivastva “Homestay,”
in the heart of Varanasi.

She told the police that Hriday’s grandson, Siddhartha Srivastava,
24, hurled acid at her around 4 am, while she was sleeping in the
balcony of her second floor room, raising concern about the easy
availability of acid despite official restrictions on its non-commercial
sale.

Yurieva mentioned to Siddhartha that she planned to return to
Russia in 9 days, which prompted him to propose marriage to
Yurieva after knowing her for only 5 days.

She rejected his proposal.

She saw Siddhartha as a guide and perhaps a friend, she said, but
he seemed to fall in love with her almost at once.

Now she is in hospital severely burned on her face and neck.

The next 72 hours will be very critical for the Russian young lady,
said Dr KK Gupta, medical superintendent of the Acid Burn Unit at
Shivalingam Hospital where the victim was admitted.

Siddhartha fled soon after the incident, but investigators have
questioned his father, brother and grandfather.

Prima facie the incident appeared to be a case of spurned love
unfortunately ensuing into an acid attack.

Police teams have been deployed to arrest the suspect.

In 2013 India made acid attacks a separate class of crime amid
growing incidents of revenge on women who rejected sexual
advances or marriage proposals.

Although the government has moved to stop the sale of non-
commercial acid, the attacks continue unabated, a fact underlined
by women who boldly spoke out against the practice in an award-
winning television documentary: Stop Acid Attacks on Women.

Friday’s acid attack was just the latest in a series of acid-related
crimes reported by foreign women visiting India.

An American from the state of Arkansas accused two Indians of
raping her in Dharamsala then dousing her breasts with acid.
An Okinawan woman accused an Indian tour guide of drugging her
with LSD, informally known as acid, then raping her in Rajastan.

Perhaps the oddest attack was reported by a 20-year-old Chilean in
the process of “transitioning” from male to female.

S/he accused her male yoga instructor in Himachal Pradesh of
convincing her to swallow an acid concoction which put her into a
“trance,” so that she was compelled to watch helplessly while he
“examined” her genitals.

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