Imposters are giving eunuchs a hard time. So much so that some civic bodies in Madhya Pradesh are contemplating issuing licences to the genuine ones to prevent the fakes from decamping with alms.
The Bhopal Municipal Corporation is thinking of drafting a proposal for the state capital where more than 5,000 eunuchs live that would authorise it to issue licences.
The idea is to put a check on fake eunuchs who trouble people during festive seasons.
A legal expert said: "Licensing the eunuchs would require amending the Municipal Corporation Act which reportedly permits issuance of licences for carrying out certain commercial activities and not for classifying a certain class of people."
Many eunuchs in India earn their livelihood by dancing and singing on occasions like marriages and births. They give their blessings and are given alms in return.
But the lure of easy money has led to the presence of fake eunuchs. Things have reached such a pass that eunuchs in Indore have even set up a squad to check those who they believe are fake.
"The Nandlalpura group of eunuchs in Indore has set up a squad to cope with the menace of pseudo-eunuchs, who allegedly make away with their share of alms. Last month, the squad apprehended two youths while they were collecting money from the Chandan Nagar area in Indore."
"We received a tip-off that some people clad in saris and salwar-suits were collecting money at the Chandan Nagar area. Our team nabbed two of them, identified as Sunil and Rajesh, of Jabalpur. On removing their make-up and undressing them, it was clear that they were not eunuchs. We handed them over to the police," said Durga Guru, chief of eunuchs in Nandlalpura.
"Because of these nakli hijras (fake eunuchs), our clients are moving away from us. People who once used to welcome our arrival after marriage or childbirth now look down upon us due to the immoral activities of such elements. They move around in the guise of eunuchs and harass people," Durga lamented.
The annoyed eunuchs have also printed visiting cards with a line of caution against the imposters. Nakli hijron se savdhan (beware of pseudo-eunuchs) reads a line on these visiting cards that are being distributed among people.
"We have made several complaints to police against nakli hijras, but so far no action has been taken. With no other option, we have formed our own team that has been given the task of nabbing the impostors," said elderly eunuch Rani.
With disputes between fake and real eunuchs increasingly becoming a headache for the people and the police, the Jabalpur district administration last month came up with the idea of issuing them licences after a medical examination.
The eunuchs agreed. But police have run into practical problems.
"We talked to the health department and constituted a team of medical experts, including female doctors. But none of the eunuchs turned up for the test," said Jabalpur civil surgeon Hitesh Agarwal.
Thus the problem of imposters continues.
"In the ongoing dispute over real and fake, a eunuch was hacked to death by rivals in broad daylight in the busy Ranital area of Jabalpur a few weeks ago," police said.
Eunuch Rambai had a tiff with her rivals who attacked her with sharp-edged weapons. She was rushed to a nearby hospital but died there, Jabalpur police official Siddharth Choudhary told IANS.