More than 40 transgenders have migrated to neighbouring states as the city police are acting tough on them. Police commissioner Auradkar denies any bias
The city police have launched a drive to make MG Road and surrounding areas a ‘prostitution free’ zone. The move is seen as discriminatory by transgenders, since it is mostly members from their community operating in these Central Business District (CBD) roads. The community, which has got a shot in the arm recently with the Supreme Court according recognition to them as the third gender, is becoming agitated and vocal about the city police’s alleged attitude towards them.
Police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, who was on city rounds, had recently witnessed street-walkers on MG Road and Cubbon Road and gave orders that they should not be seen on these two roads and near Hebbal on Bellary Road, again a favourite spot for transgender sex workers.
Auradkar called deputy commissioner of police (Central) B R Ravikanthe Gowda and DCP (East) P S Harsha and a few others and instructed them to take action to end street prostitution. Auradkar told Bangalore Mirror, “We will not tolerate street prostitution. Hence the directions were given to the jurisdictional police to take measures.” Soon the cops swung into action and took measures allegedly to make the road free from transgenders.
What the transgender community is stressing that these areas are being ‘targeted’, and not Majestic and Janatha Bazaar areas where street prostitution is rampant but are not traditionally transgenders’ areas of operation. Sympathy from the general public is not that forthcoming either since there is a social bias against transgenders, and also a threat because of what is perceived as ‘aggressive’ behaviour at signals and at places like near Mayo Hall where they move in groups at nights.
Transgender activist, Akkai Padmashali, said, “Booking us under false cases is not new. When I used to stand on roads in 2000, I ended up paying Rs 30 to them (the cops) regularly. Whenever we failed to pay they booked us under robbery, extortion and theft cases.”
However, Padamshali thinks police should definitely take action against genuine criminals. “But if officers are giving any directives to target only transgenders, that person should immediately be dismissed. The government should take this issue seriously,” the activist added.
The Ulsoor police recently arrested three transgenders — Saloni, Parveen and Shruti (all names changed to protect their identities) — and sent them to the jail. At present Saloni and Parveen are out on bail while Shruti is still behind the bars.
“I was in a pub when I got call from my friends Parveen and Shruti. When I went to their help the cops arrested me also,” Shalini told Bangalore Mirror.
The police, however, said that the arrests are due to complaints of robbery. “A few transgenders are allegedly involved in robbing people. Most of such cases go unreported as the victims usually do not file complaints,” a senior police official said.
But Saloni accused police of discrimination against their community. “The police book false cases and send us to jail. They don’t take action against the women prostitutes. There were no raids at Majestic or Janatha Bazaar where only women prostitutes stand. They target us. That is the reason they have booked a robbery case on me,” Saloni said.
According to the community, the transgenders have started to migrate to the neighbouring states. Around 40-50 persons have migrated to Chennai, Hyderabad, Tirupati and other places already, a source stated.
But there was a time when Bangalore used to be a safe hub for transgenders. “There are around 30,000 transgenders in the state. People from other states used to come to Bangalore,” Padamshali recalled.
Even police were humane, she claimed. “When Ajay Kumar Singh and Neelam Achuta Rao were the police commissioners of
Bangalore they used to treat us with humanity. We had brought our problems to the government’s notice quite a few times. They never booked us under false cases,” the activist added.
The top cop, however, dismissed the theory of discrimination. “Police are not against any specific gender. We treat them equally. We have not asked anyone to leave the city. We are biased against the people involved in the flesh trade on the streets. It may be men, women or transgenders, we will take action against all of them,” Auradkar said.
Meanwhile, Padmashali thinks discrimination against transgenders is a social problem. “We all are sexual minorities, if we are coming on the road it means that we are neglected by our family, government and the society. Provide us with proper facilities like education and work, and we will not end up on the roads for prostitution,” Padamshali said.
The state vice-president of All India Democratic Women’s Association, K S Vimala, agrees. “Transgenders or the women who come on the street for prostitution have real problems. Instead of tagging them as criminals we should treat them with humaneness. Most of them are trafficked and in a few places police are hand-in-glove. They should find alternative ways to solve the problem. The police and public representatives have to sit together and find solutions. Let them live as they are also human beings,” she said.