On the pattern of Mughal era when eunuchs had an important role in palaces, the third gender population in Bihar want to be involved in the state's social welfare development projects.
In the Mughal empire, eunuchs were employed to take care of harems and some of them became aides of queens. Being castrated males, they could not exploit women of the harems sexually, but were able to carry out domestic works. In the recent Bollywood film, Jodhaa Akbar, a eunuch was shown as a trusted lieutenant of Jodhaabai.
"We have suffered a lot for centuries and most of us live in abject poverty. We want restoration of our recognition on the pattern of Mughal era," Kali Hijra, a leader of the eunuchs in Bihar, told PTI.
Hijra, who had unsuccessfully contested the last Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Patna, said, in the wake of social boycott the eunuchs faced, "we have now now grouped in the state and formed welfare associations demanding right to employment, marriage and child adoption among other things."
Another eunuch Lalan Hijra expressed similar opinion and said the state government should consider reservation for transgender people in various government concerns and the identity crisis the eunuchs suffered must be attended to.
"In all the application forms, from birth registration to school or college admission or for voter card, there are only two columns for sex - male (M) and female (F). It is not good," Lalan said and demanded that another column for the third geneder people be included.
Kali Hijra who faced the problem while filling form of ward councilor, said it was a pointer on their status in the sociey. A proposal to engage eunuchs in various welfare projects was being considered by the state welfare department.
Its principal secretary Vijay Prakash said the state government intended to bring the transgender people into mainstream as they visit families usually on birth and wedding occasions. "We now want to engage them for conveying women and child welfare schemes through lyrics and compositions".
The welfare department has also propsoed to train the eunuchs so that they can be deployed as securityguards in places where a large number of women work or reside like remand homes, colleges and hospitals, official sources said.
Apart from that, their services could also be utilised in the health sector for awareness campaigns in the rural areas about AIDS and other diseases.
Recently, the Patna Municipal Corporation had entrusted some eunuchs with the task of collecting tax. Social Security Minister Damodar Raut said the government was serious about improving their lot. "We are formulating an action plan to help them lead a better life."
The state welfare department had on April 22 organised a workshop which was attended by over 100 eunuchs from across the country.
In the workshop, P Asha Bharathi, representative of THaa, a Tamil Nadu based organisation working for the welfare of transgender people, suggested that Bihar government should introduce a new column 'T' for eunuchs in the admission forms of schools and higher educational institutes.
"They should also be included in the below poverty line list and provided with ration cards," she said. Mitali Mohanti of Sathi, a Bhubaneshwar-based body, said their complaints should be heard by the women's commissions of states for delivery of justice, as in Orissa.