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Laxmi Agarwal was merely 15 years old when she underwent a terrible acid attack in 2005 in the busy market area of Delhi. The attack was planned and performed by a man who was twice her age because she had spurned his advances.
The tragedy occurred when she was on the way for her music classes. The aspiring singer and kathak dancer was the student of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalay who had to discontinue her studies because of the aftermath of the attack. However, fortunately, she received her treatment on time. In the following years, she had to undergo a lot of surgeries that also affected her mental health.
However, with her strong will and determination, Laxmi took up the challenge and managed to gather a number of signatures for the petition seeking to put a ban on the sales of acid in the market. She even took this issue to the honorable Supreme Court of India and managed to put the culprits who were the masterminds of this incident behind the bars.
As of 2014, she is the founder and director of an NGO, ‘Chhanv Foundation’ that aims to help acid attacks survivors. In the same year, she married Alok Dixit, her co-activist from SAA (Stop Acid Attacks) campaign and she has a daughter with him now. She has also received International Woman of Courage award from Michelle Obama, wife of US’s then-president, Barack Obama. She was also named as the NDTV Indian of the year.
On April 10, 2015, a novel campaign, “Face of Courage” was launched by Alok Dixit and Ashish Shukla in association with Cheil India. The purpose of the campaign was to raise funds for acid attack survivors as the government gives only 3 lakhs compensation to acid attack survivors. This petty amount is definitely not adequate for the corrective surgeries that a survivor has to undergo. Hence this campaign was launched across social media platforms wherein people can simply change their profile pictures with www.donateaface.org written on a sheet of paper covering their face. The founders of the campaign made her their spokesperson which also made her the first ever acid attack victim to become a brand ambassador. Since then, she has been an inspiration to everyone.
Realizing the true purpose of media, the moving story of Laxmi Agarwal had been presented and embodied in the movie, ‘Chhapaak’ which stars Deepika Padukone. It got released on January 10, 2020 and is directed by Meghna Gulzar and produced by Deepika Padukone in association with Fox Star Studios. Days before the release of the movie, Padukone visited the brutalized students of the JNU Attack of 2020. However, this move received a lot of criticism stating that her visit was only for promotional purpose.
However, against all the odds, the prevailing truth is that her life is a message to the world that, “Acid attacks do not mean the end of dreams. Never give people the satisfaction of seeing you suffer.”
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