Breaking news: Nov 26 – hijras released
Bangalore, Nov 26, 2014: Over the past two days, approximately 167 members of the transgender community have been taken away by the police and kept at the Beggars’ colony. These detentions have been entirely arbitrary, and we are apprehending more detentions in the coming days. We are greatly concerned by this mass detention and violations of human rights.
Most detenues were not on the streets begging or doing any act that is prohibited under the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act, 1975. Most of them were going about their daily chores when they were arbitrarily picked up by police officers and taken away to the Beggar’s colony in Hoysalas. The police even walked into the homes of the hijras and dragged them out. It is to be noted that even those hijras who went to the police station because they were called by other arrested hijras were also arrested. Clearly the objective of the police was not merely to pick up those who were begging, but in effect all persons who answered to the description of being hijra.
The reason for this mass detention is unknown to us but there is information suggesting that this is retaliation for the misbehaviour of one of the members of the community. Even if this were true, collective punishment inflicted on the entire hijra community for the wrongdoing of just one person is not appropriate. It is unconscionable that the entire transgender women community should be punished for the alleged wrongs of some members of the community
The detainees were not released even on an undertaking given by organizations working on sexuality rights. This is tantamount to arbitrary detention as the majority of those arrested have not committed any offence under the Beggary Act. This is violative of the fundamental freedom of movement which all citizens enjoy under Article 19 of the Constitution. This state action has taken on the character of a purge of hijras from the city of Bangalore violating guaranteed constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court of India in the judgment of National Legal Services Authority v Union of India has upheld the rights of the transgender community. The apex court has held that, “We, therefore, conclude that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity includes any discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has the effect of nullifying or transposing equality by the law or the equal protection of laws guaranteed under our Constitution, and hence we are inclined to give various directions to safeguard the constitutional rights of the members of the TG community. Hijras, Eunuchs, apart from binary gender, be treated as ‘third gender’ for the purpose of safeguarding their rights under Part III of our Constitution and the laws made by the Parliament and the State Legislature.”
In furtherance of the said judgment, the Karnataka State Government has formulated a policy for Transgenders in Karnataka. The Preamble to the policy states that “steps to create public awareness should be taken so that TGs feel that they are also part of the society, regain their respect and are not to be treated as untouchables. The solution to their problems requires concerted efforts to mainstream them and adoption of an inclusive approach in all spheres of life.” The policy then goes on to provide for a range of measures to create an enabling environment for the transgender community, amongst which include protection from harassment and abuse at multiple levels. The arbitrary mass detention of members of the transgender community is in violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment and the policy by the Karnataka State Government.
Therefore, we demand the State Government immediately fulfill the following demands:
1. Direct the release of the members of transgender community immediately;
2. Direct that there be no further detention of members of the transgender community;
3. Initiate departmental inquiry into this arbitrary detention by police officers under whose direction the purge of hijras from the city was carried out.
4. Compensation for the wrongful arrest and consequent mental trauma suffered by those arrested.
Please attend the protest today, the 26th of November, at Town Hall, from 4 pm, against the illegality of police action against transgenders.
Supported by : Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Alternative Law Forum, People’s Union for Civil Liberties,Karnataka Janshakthi
Coverage by the Bangalore Mirror is here.