Family of Pakistani American Acid Attack Victim Blames Police for Not Catching Culprit a Year Later
- Nafiah Ikram, 22, a medical student at Hofstra University, was returning from work at a local CVS when she was brutally attacked by an unidentified man outside of her home in Elmont, New York.
A year after she was severely burned from an acid attack, Pakistani American Nafiah Ikram’s family are accusing Nassau County police in New York’s Long Island of not doing enough to catch the culprit. Nafiah, 22, a medical student at Hofstra University, was returning from work at a local CVS around 8:20 p.m. when she was brutally attacked by an unidentified man outside of her home in Elmont in Long Island, New York.
She suffered devastatingly serious injuries to her face, arms, and chest, leaving her blinded. She was wearing contact lenses the night of the incident; the acid melted the contacts onto her eyes. Additionally, because she was screaming, the acid went into her mouth, causing her tongue and throat to burn. Her parents too suffered burns on their hands and forearms as they attempted to help their only daughter. Footage of the incident was caught on a neighboring house camera.
“The police department, they never take this case seriously,” her father Sheikh Ikram told the New York Post. “So, please. Help us to find that animal. My daughter, she is suffering every single day and we are going through a very tough time. It was somebody who really knows her well, who has very good information.”
Nafiah also blames the police for not doing enough to catch her attacker. “I think in the beginning they didn’t take it seriously,” she told the Post. “They went through my social media, my text messages, all of that and still couldn’t find one lead,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s child. The fact that this person is still out there, even my family, friends, my community, my neighbors, they’re all scared. They lock their doors.”
According to the Post, Nafiah has had several surgeries, the latest as recently as two weeks ago. “First, I had reconstruction of my right eyelid,” she told the Post. And in between the surgeries, every two weeks, she had esophageal dilation.” I was not able to eat because my esophagus lost its flexibility, so something as small as a pill will get stuck in my throat,” she said, adding that there will be many plastic surgeries.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder responded to the family’s allegations and “ defended investigators’ efforts to break the case,” the Post said. “The Nassau County Police Department continues an intense and comprehensive investigation into the heinous act that took place one year ago, when our victim, Nafiah Ikram, was assaulted with a hazardous substance,” read the statement, according to the Post.
“Numerous interagency resources have been assigned and continue to collaborate to bring the person responsible to justice,” Ryder said, adding that “Nassau County Crime Stoppers and the FBI have both equally increased their reward to a total of $40,000 for tips that could lead to an arrest of the person or persons responsible.”
Last year, a few weeks after the attack, Nafiah got support from celebrity chef, author and host of “Top Chef,” Padma Lakshmi, who has known the family and the victim for over a decade. She took to social media to urge the public to come forward with any news of the assailant of this heinous crime. Lakshmi posted a heart-wrenching video describing the “beautiful girl” who “has had her whole life shattered,” because of this senseless, brutal attack. Lakshmi has asked anyone who is able to contribute to Nafiah’s GoFundMe, organized by neighbor Shazia Anjum, the proceeds of which will be put towards her medical bills.
In the GoFundMe page, Anjum writes that the attacker used a dark brown acid known to cause blindness and severe burning. “Had the acid gotten into Nafiah’s lungs she would have died,” she writes. “We don’t know if Nafiah will ever regain vision again,” she states on the page.
Almost three weeks after the attack, Nafiah spoke out about what happened on that fateful day. “My whole life changed in a matter of five minutes,” she said on April 21, as per CBS New York. “We don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.” She started to cry, she recalled, and “was panicking.”
Her father Sheikh Ikram told CBS that his daughter was in the hospital for three weeks, and is not able to eat properly. “She can’t see anything good. Only one eye is working,” he said. “I can just see colors, but that’s it,” Nafiah said. Her mother, Sherina Mohammed told CBS that it’s been “a horrible nightmare for us.”