Aid on wheels for acid attack victim's kin

Albeit late but help is pouring in for 28-year-old Sonali Mukherjee, who was rendered disabled in an acid attack by a spurned suitor nearly 10 years ago.

The latest act of kindness has come from Bank of India and Bokaro-based NGO Sanjeevani, who have joined hands to finance an SUV worth Rs 8 lakh for Sonali's younger brother Debashis Mukherjee, who, in turn, gave the car on rent to the police department.

On Sunday, Debashis (27) handed over keys of the SUV to Bokaro SP Kuldeep Dwivedi, who has taken the vehicle at a rent of Rs 16,400 per month, at a function at Family Counselling Centre at Sector-I of Bokaro steel city.

Debashis, who works for a private company, will repay the loan ' financed on zero down payment by the bank on a guarantee of Rs 1.75 lakh provided by Sanjeevani ' in five years at a monthly instalment of Rs 15,000.

Family Counselling Centre is the parent organisation of Sanjeevani that works for prevention of suicide.

"Instead of looking to the government to address every problem, the society can itself find solutions of a number of problems through some initiatives and mutual co-operation," said Dwivedi.

Expressing his gratitude, Debashis said: "I will be greatly indebted towards Sanjeevani, Bank of India and Bokaro SP for giving me a source of livelihood."

Life changed for Sonali, then a student of BSS Women's College, Dhanbad, on the night of April 22, 2003, when one Tapas Mitra, a resident of Telipara whose marriage proposal she turned down, entered her Bhelatand house along with two friends and poured acid on her. The attack took away her eyesight and badly scarred her face.

Her younger sister Soma, who happened to be with her, and her father Chandidas, who tried to catch the attackers, also suffered burns.

The trio was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment, but they later managed to secure bail from the high court.

The incident prompted Sonali and her family to shift to their ancestral home in Kasmar, Bokaro. Chandidas, who was employed with a private company in Dhanbad, had to quit his job and join the family profession of priesthood but could hardly earn enough to feed his family.

The Telegraph highlighted Sonali's plight on June 4 this year.

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