Acid Attack Survivor “Laxmi Agarwal” becomes an inspiration for Deepika Padukone, let’s share her story

Laxmi Agarwal is an acid-attack survivor and activist. In 2005, she was attacked by a 32-year-old man named Nadeem Khan (Guddu) when she refused to marry him. Today, she has become an inspiration for Bollywood’s most talented actress Deepika Padukone. A Hindi movie based on Laxmi Agarwal is being made named “Chhapaak” directed by Meghna Gulzar. Deepika will play the role of Laxmi Agarwal in the film. The film is surely going to inspire millions of people when it will hit the cinema.

Laxmi was born in New Delhi and hails from a middle-class family. She came across a man Nadeem Khan who proposed her to marry him. Nadeem Khan attacked her with acid when she rejected his offer. 

Laxmi came in a relationship with social activist Alok Dixit. However, their relationship could not turn into marriage life. Alok said that the society was not ready to accept us together so he decided not to get married and instead opted to be in a live-in-relationship. He said, “We do not want people to come to our wedding and comment on Laxmi’s looks as looks of the bride are given much importance by people in society. So, we decided not to have any ceremony,” said Alok. 

Laxmi, whose face and other body parts were burnt in the acid attack, had a PIL in 2006. Three men near Tughlaq road in New Delhi attacked Laxmi with acid as she had refused to marry Nadeem Khan aka Guddu, of the trio. She had also urged for a total ban on the sale of acid as the number of incidents of such attacks on women increased across the country. During a hearing in April, the Centre assured the Supreme Court of India that it will work with the state governments to frame a policy to curb the sale of acid in order to avoid chemical attacks. However, it failed to do so, which angered the court. When the center failed to produce a plan, the Supreme Court warned that it will intervene and pass order if the government failed to form policy.

Laxmi, along with other acid attack survivors went on a hunger strike demanding immediate justice and rehabilitation for acid attack survivors.  In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Laxmi and Rupa’s plea, thereby creating a fresh set of restrictions on the sale of acid. As per the new regulations, the acid would not be made available to any individual below the age of 18 years. One is also required to show a photo identity card before buying acid. Laxmi claims that not much has changed on the ground, despite all the regulations. “Acid is freely available in shops. Our own volunteers have gone and purchased acid easily. In fact, I have myself purchased acid,” she said.

Acid-attack survivor had faced financial problems also when she was completely running out of money. Thanks to Hindustan Time which brought her issue in front of the world and mentioned Laxmi’s struggles for finding jobs that she was unemployed for a year now. People soon came to know about the incident while scrolling through the newsfeed and then Laxmi started getting job offers and some people provided financial support as well. She said she was touched by the massive support of the people. ‘I am overwhelmed and can’t express how I feel.’ She also added that ‘I and my daughter are not alone.’

While receiving “International Women of Courage Award” (Photo: Milaap)

Today, Laxmi Agarwal inspires all of us with her determination and courage. Like her, several other acid attack survivors did not let the ordeal define the trajectory of their lives and have gone on to achieve exemplary heights in professional or personal domains. One of the most talented actresses in Bollywood “Deepika Padukone” is making a movie named “Chhapaak” on her. She was given “International Women of Courage Award”.

Writer, historian, and activist Dharam Sikarwar is a very active author The Youth. He writes on national and international issues, environment, politics. He is an avid book reader as well.