They say death is the great equaliser. But for transgender persons in India, there is seldom any respite from discrimination even in death. On Tuesday, the mortal remains of Shalu, the 35-year old transgender woman who was found dead in Kozhikode, was claimed by her family. However, they point blank refused to take her remains to their native in Kannur and perform her final rites, transgender activists in Kozhikode told TNM.
“We tried to convince them. But they were not willing to take her back to her house and give her a funeral she deserved. They wanted to finish it off quickly in Kozhikode itself,” Sisily George, a transgender activist from Kozhikode told TNM.
But where her biological family faltered, Shalu's transgender family lived up to her memory, conducting a dignified funeral and cremation for her in Kozhikode on Tuesday.
“We took permission from the family and claimed her mortal remains in the morning, on Tuesday. We then performed the funeral at Sneha Koodu - a building owned by the Social Justice Department so that people could come and pay their respects to Shalu,” Sisily added.
Following the funeral, the transgender community took Shalu’s remains to the crematorium to perform the final rites. Sisily also added that Shalu’s relatives were not keen on displaying her remains for the public to pay their respects.
On Monday morning, the 35-year-old transgender woman from Kannur was found dead near the KSRTC bus depot in Kozhikode city under mysterious circumstances. Seeing the body, residents of the neighbourhood quickly alerted the police, who in turn alerted Sisily and other transgender activists in the city.
Speaking to TNM, Sisily had said they strongly suspected that she was murdered. “There were bruises on Shalu’s body and she was bleeding from her nose when we found her body,” she had said. CCTV footages of the area were also retrieved and the police identified two men who were seen in the vicinity in the night - when the incident is suspected to have taken place.
Shalu’s body was taken to the Kozhikode medical college hospital for the post mortem, the results of which are yet to be released.
Meanwhile, the Nadakkavu police have registered a case under section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires the police to inquire or report on suicide, homicide, or death under suspicious circumstances. Two persons, who were identified in the CCTV footage, were also taken into custody for questioning.
Incidentally, Shalu had also allegedly complained to her associates of harassment by unknown persons and this, too, would be investigated by the police.