Covid effect: Cafe run by acid attack survivors suspends ops

Agra/ Lucknow, April 12 (IANS) The pandemic has spelt doom for acid attack survivors in Agra and Lucknow.

Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra that was run by acid attack survivors, announced a sudden closure on Sunday.

The cafe was reportedly facing heavy losses due to the ongoing pandemic and business suffered as the footfall of foreign tourists went down.

The NGO, which was running the unique restaurant, cited financial crisis behind suspending operations.

The cafe attracted global attention when it started in December 2014.

Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav even visited the cafe in Agra and helped them open a branch in Lucknow too.

A note shared by the cafe management said, “With extreme pain and grief, we would like to inform you that our most acknowledged venture, Sheroes Hangout Cafe, Agra is going to be shut down with immediate effect. Ever since the pandemic began, our cafe at Agra and Lucknow went into a serious financial crisis with a dip of about 80 per cent in total revenues”.

Founder of Sheroes cafe and director of Chhanv foundation that runs the initiative, Ashish Shukla, said, “We were not able to bear the cost of running the cafe. Besides a steep decline in sales, donations also went down by 75 per cent over the last one year. The Agra cafe was hugely dependent on foreign tourists. Following travel restrictions, we were hardly left with any source of income. Sheroes cafe in Lucknow is trying to survive on its online delivery service. We do not know how long it will be able to operate.”

The acid attack survivors and their families have been dependent on income form the cafe.

One such survivor, who did not wish to be named, said, “My family that includes my parents, younger sister and daughter are wholly dependent on me and this cafe has been my source of livelihood. Because our faces are disfigured, no one else gives us jobs. I do not know what will happen if the Lucknow unit also shuts down.”

Rani (name changed) was a victim of acid attack when she could not fulfil the dowry demands of her husband.

Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Chhapaak’ was based on the life of one of the acid attack survivors.

Ashish Shukla, meanwhile, said that the foundation would continue to take care of the medical requirements of the survivors.

“Their skill training programme will also continue. We need help to revive the cafe and bring back the lost smiles on the faces of our survivors. We look forward to restarting the cafe in future,” he stated.