‘Shakes confidence in the small world we have’: Trans people allege assault by cops

Their lawyers allege that the police abducted one trans man. The police say he is in custody over a missing person FIR.

ByNidhi Suresh
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‘Shakes confidence in the small world we have’: Trans people allege assault by cops
Mitr Trust shelter home in Delhi. |Jude Weston
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At 12.38 am on Friday, two policemen pulled up on a motorbike in front of Mitr Trust, an NGO in Delhi’s Sitapuri and, 19 minutes later, two men in khaki exited the gate, CCTV footage shows. A person in a black T-shirt and black shorts followed them along with a policewoman, and another policeman left on a motorbike a minute later.

Mitr is a shelter home, or Garima Greh, for transgender people currently housing 13 men and 10 women, providing them food, shelter and skill training.

Rudrani Chettri, the founder of Mitr and programme coordinator of Garima Greh, said Aditya, a trans man, had come to the shelter home on Wednesday. “He was found roaming around at a railway station in Delhi and had nowhere to go,” she said. Rudrani had Aditya brought to the shelter, where he reportedly told the other residents that he had been under house arrest for two and a half years because his parents were ashamed of him.

Two days later, Aditya was whisked away by the police against his wishes even as he “kept calling out to us”, said Bella Sharma, 22, a trans woman from Bihar lodged at Mitr.

According to Bella, four police officials arrived at the shelter a little past midnight on Friday. “I told them to enter their names in the register,” she said, adding that they claimed to be from the Dabri police station, less than half a kilometre over the border in Uttar Pradesh. “But they refused to show any identification.”

In the register, seen by Newslaundry, an entry has been made under the name of RK Singh, with the purpose and designation termed “Investigation, Police Station Badalpur”. The phone number is “out of order”.

They began asking for Aditya. “First they told Aditya he had to go with them to the police station and give a statement as his parents had filed a missing persons complaint. When he said he would prefer to write the statement at the shelter home itself, they told him his father was waiting downstairs and he should go with them,” said Bella.

Aditya followed the police, and when he did not return after a few minutes, Bella said she and five other people from the shelter decided to go to the Dabri police station. “We took two trans men along with us, so that we could show and sensitise the policemen what a trans man looks like,” she said.

As Bella and her friends reached the police station, she said they saw Aditya being taken away in a private car but the police officials refused to acknowledge that any of them had gone to the shelter home. However, Bella said when she recognised a police official who had come “to our home”, the police turned aggressive and roughed them up.

Siya Rajput, another trans woman who was with Bella, alleged that the police began making vulgar remarks.

No FIR yet

The six transgender people called the police control room after reaching the shelter. “When the police arrived, they took us to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital but they did not allow any attendee to come with us,” Bella said. “They dropped us there, told the hospital staff and immediately left.”

She said none of them have serious injuries. They received first aid for injuries on their legs, thighs, arms, abdomen and back. Bella’s elbow remains swollen and bruised.

Bella Sharma at the shelter home.

Bella Sharma at the shelter home.

On hearing about the incident, Rudrani reached the hospital at around 2 am, and did a Facebook live, which now has over 2,000 views and prompted lawyers to offer legal assistance.

The next day, at 2.30 pm, advocate Vijay Kumar, told Newslaundry that they were in the process of writing a letter to the deputy commissioner of police asking about Aditya’s whereabouts and seeking an FIR over the alleged assault. “We want charges of sexual assault and harassment to be filed in the FIR. Bella’s phone which is in the station needs to be returned. And we need to know where Aditya is,” Kumar said.

According to Chaitanya Kamal, who is assisting the lawyer, this is “a clear case of abduction”. “They didn't show any papers and when those at the shelter home were asking for any piece of document to know whether the Aditya is safe or not, they were assaulted and abused.”

Kumar said Aditya “is an adult and cannot be taken by anyone against his will, even the police”.

When Newslaundry visited the Dabri police station, SHO Satish Chandra refused to comment on the matter. A constable showed Newslaundry the visitors’ registry which indicates that personnel from the Badalpur police station had visited the station at 11.46 pm.

DCP South Harsh Vardhan told Newslaundry that at 12.20 pm, a police team from Badalpur station came and sought assistance from the Dabri police station in a missing persons complaint. “They went to the Garima Greh in Sitapuri and later left with the alleged victim in the missing persons complaint. After that around six to seven transgender persons came to Dabri police station, demanding to meet the person who had left with UP police team. They were told that the matter relates to UP police and Dabri police station has just provided assistance. They became aggressive and obstructed police personnel on duty,” the SHO claimed. “Some of them also removed their clothes and started using very abusive language. Minimal force was used to disperse them.”

At 7.30 pm on Friday, Chaitanya Kamal told Newslaundry that the lawyers met the DCP who confirmed that Aditya was with the Badalpur police. “We filed a complaint with the DCP for the harassment and abuse but no FIR has been lodged.”

Siya Rajput, in yellow dress, needs help walking.

Siya Rajput, in yellow dress, needs help walking.

‘Not so safe anymore’

The incident has left a mark on the residents of the shelter home.

Rudrani said that a few of the residents have said they want to leave as they are not feeling safe “in the only place they have ever felt safe”. “Many of the people who come to us, come here because they have been tortured, sexually abused and were doing sex work. They want to make their lives better now.”

Consider the example of Siya Rajput, who has been at the shelter for three months after escaping from her Lucknow home. “My own father used to torture me for my identity. So I had to run away…Here, I am free to be who I want…when something like this happens, it shakes our confidence in the small world we have.”

Pictures by Jude Weston.

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