The following is a testimony from the report titled “A REPORT ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST TRANSGENDERS IN KARNATAKA, 2014” that was released by Ondede and compiled by Prerana Kodur & Gowthaman Ranganathan. Ondede, meaning convergence in Kannada, is a collective that recognizes and endeavours to link existing movements such as child rights, women’s’ rights, sexual minority rights and other vulnerable sections through dialogue, research and action on Dignity-Voice-Sexuality.
This is the 2nd in a four-part series. The first testimony in this series can be read here.
On November 26th, 2014, just two days after Bengaluru Pride saw a massive participation of 2000 people, more than 47 members of the Transgender community were picked up from various places across the city of Bangalore and were illegally detained at the Beggars’ Home. Amuda, a Hijra guru, recalls the happenings of the day when she received a frantic call from her chela.
I live in Hosur road, Parappana Agrahara. I was at home that day. It was my daughter’s (chela) birthday. I had bought new clothes, cake and ingredients for pooje. I was at home preparing for the party with my other daughters, which was in the evening. Only one daughter (Harshini) went out for begging. Around 11.30 am I got a call from an unknown number. It was a call from my daughter. She called from the police’s phone. She told me that the police had caught her at the signal. So immediately I took my other daughters and left to see what had happened.
When we left home we were wearing our night clothes. We couldn’t change as we left immediately. I reached there and asked the police what had happened and what the issue was. He told me that few community members had misbehaved, because of which we had to go the police station. The police told me it was just for a while as the Commissioner wanted to meet us. The police asked us to sit in their van but I refused to sit as I had a reputed name in that area. So I told the police that I would follow them in an auto. When we reached the station, I did not know who the Commissioner was as he was appointed newly. The minute they saw us, without even enquiring who we are or letting us speak the police just threw us in a corner. I was made to sit there for 2 hours along with the other people. Nobody even bothered to see who we were.
They asked us to write our names and address on a paper and we did as we were told. I was really scared and tensed as we did not know what was happening. After 2 hours, the police came and told that all of us should be sent to Beggars’ Colony and nobody should be seen begging near Hosur Road.
When I reached Beggars’ Colony, the Officials there took my money, phone and asked me to remove all my clothes. I kept telling them that it was my daughter’s birthday and I had to be at home and I would be back next day. But nobody listened to me. When they asked me to remove my clothes I was crying and telling them not to do this. But again they wouldn’t listen. They threw me in a room where the other beggar women stayed. These women were old and diseased. When they gave us the food, it was first served to the beggars, after which we were given to eat in 14 the same plate in which the beggars ate. It was so dirty and the food was disgusting. Though I was really hungry, I could not eat at all. But we were forced to eat as the Officer stood there with a stick threatening to beat us if we did not eat. I fell like throwing up while I was eating, but I had to swallow it as I was scared they would beat me. They gave us all old mats and cushions which were used by the beggars who were living there.
I had no idea what was happening outside neither did I know if anyone had come for us. We were locked inside with one Officer always standing there. I was not allowed to talk to anyone there. All we did was cry because we did not know what to do. We felt so helpless.
That night when we were sleeping, one of the police Officer came inside and woke my sister up with a stick to have sex. He was drunk too. That morning I had seen him in his uniform while they were putting us in. But that night, he came in his civil dress. My sister got really scared and woke me up. I spoke really loud to the Officer which woke the other inmates. This embarrassed him and he went away. Thankfully she woke us up, otherwise may be she would have been forced for sex.
The next day when we were released, the Officials literally chased us with sticks till the office like we were dogs. When I reached the office, I was made to sign a paper and a photo was taken of all of us. I was also threatened not to be seen in and around that area. I was given back my phone and my money and they let me go.
The Beggars’ Colony is a very horrible place. While we were being released, those women who were staying there begged us to take them with us. They all stayed in a pathetic condition. I do not beg. I earn money by doing shows. I don’t understand why I was taken and put in Beggars’ Colony while I was at home. Is it only because I am a Hijra? I have been staying near Hosur Road for 5 years now. And I have changed my house six times. It is so difficult to find a home to stay as nobody is willing to give us a place to stay.
So many times the police call us vulgar names and verbally abuse us. It is so heartbreaking. I would like to have a house of my own, or at least get a loan so I can build my own house and live. I do not want the society to look down upon us. We are human beings too. I want to be treated equally as everyone else is treated.
The complete report can be downloaded here.