Civil society protests police violence against hijras and human rights defenders

In response to the call for a national day of action by the Campaign for Sex Workers and Sexual Minorities Rights,community groups and civil society organizations ( Sahara Transgender Project, Delhi Network of Positive People, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, Savera, Voices Against 377, Breakthrough, Sharan and Youth Parliament and Lawyers Collective) in Delhi staged a dharna at Karnataka Bhavan to protest against the police excesses against hijras and human rights activists in Bengaluru.

A hundred people including transgenders, kothis, people living with HIV and other rights activists, gathered outside Karnataka Bhavan at Chankyapuri, shouting slogans and demanding action against erring officials.

Two transgenders – Dilfaraz and Savitha who were abused in the incident in Bengaluru were also present.

On 20th October, Bengaluru Police arrested 42 persons including hijras, kothis and human rights activists on charges of unlawful assembly, rioting and obstructing government officials in performing their duty.

All 42 were kept in police custody for 2 days. Many detainees were beaten and sexually violated. They were released on bail on 22 October 2008.

After the protest, a delegation met the Resident Commissioner – Mr. Arvind Risbund and handed over a memorandum demanding:

Lawyers Collective

1. Guilty police officials be punished.

2. Brutal violence against hijras and sex workers in Bangalore be stopped and perpetrators of violence punished.

3. Traditional livelihood options of the hijra community be protected or they be provided with a reasonable option.

4. Hijras and other transsexuals have access to education, employment, health, housing, sex-change procedures, savings and credit facilities etc.

After hearing the delegation for over 30 minutes, Mr. Arvind Risbund promised to talk to the Police Commissioner and DGP in Bengalure and ask for a report of the incident. The Resident Commissioner also promised to take up the matter with the Home Secretary, Government of Karnataka. He assured the group that necessary action will be taken against the guilty.

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