Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Maria Shah dies of acid burns

By Imtiaz Ali

Maria Shah, the 25-year-old lady health worker who was the victim of an acid attack in January died early Tuesday morning at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) Burns Centre, where she was under treatment for severe burn injuries, hospital officials and relatives said.

Shah sustained burns when a young man threw acid on her while she was examining patients at a private clinic in Shikarpur city on January 15. She was brought to the CHK Burns Centre the next day.

“Whenever she saw her face, she started weeping,” her brother Mehtab Shah said, adding that she insisted she be sent abroad for treatment. Shah said he took his sister to the passport office on Monday because Senator Seemi Siddiqi had promised to send Maria to the US for treatment. She, however, died at 07:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Maria Shah had sustained 38 percent burn wounds on her face, chest, abdomen, hands and legs up to the knee, according to investigation officer (IO) Mohammed Nawaz of the Risala police station.

The IO said he recorded her statement under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code on January 17, wherein she stated that she was working as a part time nurse at the clinic of Dr Imran Sheikh in Shikarpur city. This is where Arslan Sanjrani came and threw acid at her and fled. The IO said when Maria was a student of Class 7th, Sanjrani, a rickshaw driver, used to pick and drop her and he “fell in love” with her. He threw acid at her when her parents refused to allow him to marry her.

Sanjrani was arrested from Karachi on January 23. Inspector Mohammed Ali of the New Faujdari police station, Shikarpur, told The News that the suspect along with his parents was living in a hutment in Sherpao Colony, Landhi. They had fled after the incident.

Inspector Mohammed Ali said that Sanjrani, a matriculate, had confessed his crime but had no regrets over it. The police submitted an interim challan against him and now Section 302 (murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) would be added in the challan to be submitted before the district and sessions court, Shikarpur.

Burns Centre Intensive Care Unit (ICU) In-charge Dr Waqar told The News that acid wounds penetrate into the body, destroying skin, muscle, vessel and cause more damage. “Maria had received total deep wounds,” he said, adding that deep wounds even up to five per cent pose a threat to life.

Dr Waqar said Maria’s relatives had taken her for preparing her passport the other day but “much time had already passed since she remained under treatment for 25 days”.

At present, around 50 patients are admitted at the 50-bed Burns Centre, of which 35 are women, said a nurse who attended to Maria Shah. She said that a majority of the cases were homicidal or suicidal, while incidental cases were few when women get burns while cooking, etc.

On Tuesday, they admitted a young man from Bilawal Shah Noorani Goth off University Road after he attempted self-immolation over domestic problems and sustained 35 percent burns.

Meanwhile, the Burns Centre discharged Mrs Mumtaz after completing her successful treatment on Tuesday. Mrs Mumtaz is the mother of four children and her husband had thrown acid on her face. Dr Waqar said that such patients lose the desire to live because “society does not accept people with mutilated faces.” (The News)

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