November 26, 2010. It was Amir’s birthday, an annual function that is celebrated by most Eunuchs. The police illegally raided the occasion based on reports that drugs and alcohol were being consumed behind closed doors. The police arrested most of the people at the party as well as Amir. While the police were transporting them, Amir in fear of polices reprisal tried to escape and jumped of the police van. The Khwajasara community alleges that he was shot at by the police and this caused his death while the police allege that he jumped off the van and hit his head upon the pavement that caused his death. Either way, there was no autopsy to determine the cause of death, so it will remain a mystery.
Nonetheless, death of Amir marks another black event that shows us how the Police act with impunity against ‘Eunuchs’ and other disenfranchised sections of society. The violence, discrimination and abuses that are experienced by ‘Eunuchs’ on an ongoing basis from state functionaries whose job is to protect them, makes clear the reality that protection from the Police’s own violence (leave aside violence perpetrated by a third party) is only accorded to those privileged in terms of power, patronage, wealth.
The hijra/zanana communities don’t fit in our socially mandated gender moulds and those individuals pay a heavy price for this. They are estranged from family who disown them from an early age; there is an absolute lack of opportunities to better themselves in terms of education or finding any decent employment; and even access to health services is minimal.
It is almost as if collective punishment is meted out to transgender people for transgressing strictly defined gender boundaries. In fact, the offence is even more egregious when a person born into the privilege of being a man wants to act and dress like women, the gender whose social position is depressed by a multitude of cultural and religious prejudices.
In the midst of all this harassment, discrimination and disgust displayed by our society, acted out by state institutions like the police, hijras and zananas create small spaces for themselves to let loose, to exist as they want to, away from the glare of the rest of us – and even those spaces are not safe!