The police are searching for a suspect who threw chemicals on the face of a 71-year-old man Tuesday morning on the island of Dhuvafaru in Raa atoll.
Ibrahim Mohamed was attacked around 4:30am while he was walking to the mosque for dawn prayers. After undergoing treatment at the Dhuvafaru health centre and the Raa atoll regional hospital, he was transferred to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in the capital.
“He was wearing his contact lenses and it melted into his right eye. So doctors are treating him for that. His left eye is fine now after treatment,” the victim’s brother-in-law, Ahmed Ali, told the Maldives Independent.
He added that Ibrahim, a mortician who works at the island’s cemetery, was in shock and unable to open his eyes at first.
The assailant hid behind a car and doused Ibrahim’s face with a liquid chemical.
“We are really surprised that someone attacked him like this. He has no problem with anyone and is respected throughout the island,” he said.
A police spokesman said the investigation is underway and no arrests have been made so far.
In December, a 50-year-old woman was attacked with bleach on the island of Lhaimagu in Shaviyani atoll.
She was also on her way to the mosque for dawn prayers. Two male suspects aged 23 and 21 were taken into custody hours after the attack.
Following outrage and concern in the wake of the attack, a group of civil society organisations demanded justice for the victim. The NGOs observed that while acid attacks occur in the neighbouring India and Bangladesh, such incidents are unheard-of in the Maldives.
Throwing acid or corrosive substances to disfigure a woman’s face causes “irreparable damage” and leaves deep psychological scars, the NGOs said, adding that in most cases the perpetrator is known to the victim.
According to the president of the Lhaimagu island council, Haleema Adam saw her assailant but was scared to identify him because of death threats.
“Such a barbaric act carried out against anyone anywhere in the Maldives is of grave concern,” the NGOs said.