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After attack, transgenders in Uttarakhand feel unsafe

Dehradun police have arrested two eunuchs after a video went viral showing a group of eunuchs thrashing 17-year-old Ajay Pal, a transgender “socially adopted” by doctors at Coronation Hospital

dehradun Updated: Feb 05, 2018 21:52 IST
Mukesh Rawat
Mukesh Rawat
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,transgender,eunuch
Transgenders say even some of their community members living in Uttarakhand hold “conservative worldview”. (HT Photo)

Dehradun police have arrested two eunuchs after a video went viral showing a group of eunuchs thrashing 17-year-old Ajay Pal, a transgender “socially adopted” by doctors at Coronation Hospital here.

Despite prompt police action, transgender people living in the hill state don’t feel safe due to various reasons, including “conservative worldview” of some of their community members.

The arrested eunuchs belong to a group led by Rajni Rawat, who is still absconding. Pal was allegedly beaten up and paraded naked because she wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery (SRS), but Rawat was opposed to this.

“Mujhe insaaf chahiye aur kuch nahi (I only want justice),” says Ajay after she was beaten mercilessly. HT on January 27 broke a story on Ajay’s social adoption by the doctors.

Ajay, however, is not alone who has wished to undergo SRS.

Meet 21-year-old Oshin Sarkar, a transgender student from Haridwar enrolled in a certificate course in German at Panjab University (PU), Chandigarh.

Last year, she and two other transgenders, including 28-year-old Divya, a native of Chamoli district, enrolled in post-graduate course in Hindi at PU. With this, the strength of transgender students in PU increased to four.

Prior to joining the varsity, Divya and Oshin were residing in Dehradun. Recounting their experience in the city vis-a-vis the life at the Panjab University, Oshin says the biggest difference between Dehradun and Chandigarh is that the attitude of other transgenders towards those who want to get educated is very different in the two cities.

“Unlike Chandigarh where transgenders are relatively more accommodating, the transgenders in Dehradun have a very conservative worldview. Older transgenders here are opposed to anyone doing anything other than the traditional occupation of seeking badhai (going to people’s house to collect money),” she says.

Divya adds that her life could have been a “nightmare” had she stayed back in her village in Chamoli district, or even in Dehradun. She was born as a male, but over the years, Divya realised that she was a female trapped in a male’s body.

Oshin and Divya are not the only transgenders from Uttarakhand in PU. In 2016, 46-year-old Dhananjay Mangalmukhi, a native of Devaprayag in Uttarakhand’s Tehri Garhwal district, became PU’s first transgender student when she took admission in a post-graduate course in human rights.

Oshin adds that though in the initial days there were occasions when they were harassed by some students, but now people have started accepting them. “Of course, some exceptions will always be there,” she says.

Not an easy journey so far

Two years back when Divya told her family about her sexual identity, she was abandoned.

“Even in my teenage, there were clear signs that I was different from other boys. My family ignored this. When I came out of the closet, they initially asked me to get married, saying ‘things will be all right’. I refused, following which they said they won’t finance my expenses. They also stopped talking to me,” she says.

Prior to joining PU, she was pursuing a diploma course in fashion technology. To manage her expenses, she would often stage dance performances at cultural events.

On the other hand, Oshin says it was “a long struggle” to gain “some acceptance” in her family. “My mother and sister are supportive, but my brother isn’t. However, I hardly get any financial help from them.”

Dhananjay, who has been advocating LGBT rights in Chandigarh, has extended support to Ajay. “We will surely approach the human rights commission and other forums to seek justice (for Ajay),” she says.

First Published: Feb 05, 2018 21:52 IST