By: Owais Qarni
According to police, the incident took place near Naaka Chowk at Multan’s Gulgasht Market where Muqaddas Khatoon, 60, her daughters — Balqees Shahzadi, 20, Anum Shahzadi, 34, and her five-year-old granddaughter Fizza— were buying groceries.
The victims claimed that while they were busy shopping, two men – allegedly Anum’s former husband Shahbaz and his nephew Imran – pulled up their bike near them and attacked them with acid.
According to officials, all the women sustained injuries as the attackers fled the scene unchallenged. After the incident, shopkeepers in the market informed Rescue 1122 and police transported the victims to Nishtar Hospital.
Doctors at the hospital said Anum Shahzadi received the most serious burns and was at the hospital’s emergency ward while Fizza, whose feet were primarily affected, was at the burns unit. Muqaddas and Balqees were discharged after receiving first aid.
Gulgasht Police Station SHO Sadiq Dogar told The Express Tribune that both the alleged attackers were later arrested during a raid.
According to police’s preliminary investigations, Shahbaz divorced Anum a few months ago and the former couple was fighting a legal battle over the custody of their daughter. An official said a court had recently ruled that Shahbaz could not take Fizza’s custody until she was 12. “This probably infuriated him,” he said.
Police said the alleged culprits have claimed that the acid attack was staged by Anum and her family to ensure Fizza’s permanent custody.
Commenting on the incident, human rights activist Dr Farzana Bari said acid attacks had been mainly carried out against women by men and were usually motivated by revenge.
“The government enacted a law against acid attackers with 14-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs1 million. But despite that acid attacks are on the rise,’ she said.
She said the law clearly stated that acid sales would be disallowed in open bazaars, acid was available easily in every bazaar and shop.