Pabitra Karki had gone out of her apartment to buy yogurt and beaten rice Thursday evening.
A motorcycle stopped by her side as she was walking. Her former employer Mohammad Alam was on the motorcycle.
Her elder sister has been working at Alam's garment factory in Dallu for three years. Pabitra had joined her sister at the factory. She would call Alam dai (elder brother) when she worked there for a month.
"How would a girl go in the evening?" Alam asked Pabitra to ride pillion on Thursday. "I had said I'll go on my own. I sat on the motorcycle after he offered to give me a ride," Pabitra told Setopati from the bed of Kirtipur Hospital Friday morning with acid burns on her face and mehendi on her hands.
They went to a dairy on the motorcycle and bought yogurt. They bought beaten rice from a store nearby and had snacks together.
Alam, who had expressed concern at a girl walking alone a little while ago, did not drop her home though. He stopped his motorcycle midway. He did not ask her to disembark but she understood and started to walk toward her apartment.
She saw a stranger in the road who was standing with his face to the wall. It was almost eight. Pabitra ignored the man and moved ahead. The man suddenly poured acid on her.
"I was moving ahead ignoring that person. He suddenly threw something at me," she reminisced. She could not understand anything for a while. "I had a gold chain on my neck. I assumed that he may have attacked me to take that or to kidnap me," she elaborated. "It started to burn after a while. I started to call for my elder sister for help. I had heard that they make people unconscious by making them smell something and feared he may be doing that to me. I cried loudly believing that someone may come to save me."
She revealed that she knew she was attacked with acid only after hearing from people who came for help. They informed police and she was taken to the Kirtipur Hospital with acid poured on hair and face.
The Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari and the Metropolitan Police Crime Division deployed teams immediately after the incident to nab the culprits.
SSP with the Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu Shyam Gyawali met Pabitra at the hospital Thursday night itself and questioned her but she could not identify the attacker.
The police reached the garment factory at around 11 in the night investigating on the basis of CCTV footage.
Alam was with Faiyaz Alam inside the factory. Faiyaz, who hails from Bihar, India, did stitching at the factory. Faiyaz had acid burns on his hand.
The police arrested the two and took statement. Alam had planned the attack. "My employer asked me to throw the liquid at that girl. I presumed that to be alcohol. I threw the bottle at the girl. I knew it was acid only after it spilled to my hand," Faiyaz claimed in the statement. "We returned to the factory on the employer's motorcycle after throwing acid at her.
The police say it is a case of unrequited love and Alam instructed Faiyaz to throw acid as Pabitra liked another man.
She had never imagined that the former employer would attack her in such a manner and was surprised when she heard he was arrested Friday morning.
Alam would phone Pabitra's elder sister sometimes and abuse her when inebriated. He would also call Pabitra at times and say he loved her. He would swear profanities if she did not take his calls.
But she had no such feelings for him. "I would switch my phone off when it was too much."
She revealed that she had gone to Lazimpat for insurance-related work a few days ago. "I took a vehicle of a friend from Okhaldhunga. He had seen that. He may have started to think so from that day," she estimated. "He had also called me later and swore asking whose vehicle I had boarded."
Her parents are currently at their home in Okhaldhunga and are devastated on hearing about the acid attack on their daughter. "Parents are trying to come. But there is no public transportation," Ganga Bhattarai, who is with Pabitra at the hospital, said.