This Indian love story defies how fairytales have traditionally unfolded - there is no prince, who rescues a damsel in distress, before they live happily ever after. The heroine in his modern-day fairytale is Sonali Mukherjee, an acid attack survivor, who fell in love with Chittaranjan Tiwari, an electrical engineer.
And on Thursday, they tied the knot in the eastern state of Jharkhand.
"My life had come to a standstill but Chittaranjan has brought me back the joy and happiness which was lacking," said Mukherjee, after coming out of the courtroom in Bokaro city, News 18 reported.
In 2003, Mukherjee was a 17-year-old college student when three men attacked her because she had rejected their sexual advances. On the night of April 22, they poured acid over her face while she was sleeping in her home in Dhanbad city. The acid melted away her face, leaving her partially deaf and blind, and completely disfigured.
While her father had to sell his land, jewellery and cattle to pay for 22 surgeries, the accused men were released on bail, and Mukherjee received no state funding for her treatment. She even begged the government to allow euthanasia, which is illegal in India, to end her life to stop the suffering.
In 2012, Mukherjee burst into the national spotlight after she appeared on Kaun Banega Crorepati, hosted by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, in a bid to win money for funding her treatment. The 27-year-old won 2.5 million rupees along with her celebrity partner former Miss Universe Lara Dutta.
At the time, Bachchan called her the "epitome of courage" for "continuing her fight against all the odds".
"Sometimes we think that our lives are miserable, everything is against us and then (when) we come across someone like Sonali we realise how lucky we are and how much we have got going for us," he said.
In 2014, Sonali Mukherjee was reportedly given a job in a government school in Bokaro.
The story goes that Tiwari was deeply moved by Mukherjee’s courage after seeing her on television. The engineer then sent her friend request on Facebook, which she accepted, and they gradually fell in love.
Photos of the wedding were posted on Mukherjee's Facebook page on April 15.
While no official figures for acid attacks exist in India, instances of this crime are being reported with increasing frequency. In December, two boys on a motorcycle threw acid on a 30-year-old doctor when she was crossing a busy marketplace in Delhi on her way to work. It later emerged that the boys had been hired by her colleague whose love she did not reciprocate.
Following the Delhi Gang Rape in 2012, India passed several tough laws dealing with sexual violence against women which included a penalty of 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment for perpetrators of acid attacks and fine that could go up to Rs.10 lakh.
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