In a heartening move, the Mandya police initiated a peacekeeping meeting on Monday between transgender women who were forcefully evicted from three villages in the district, the heads of the said villages. The meeting was held to discuss the forceful eviction, and the way forward, and officials promised that more such meetings will be held until the women find a stable roof over their heads.
The meeting comes three days after TNM reported on how un-elected headmen had pressurised house owners into evicting transgender persons from three villages – Induvala, Thoobinakere and Raagimuddanahalli – in Mandya.
Mandya Superintendent of Police (SP) G Radhika initiated the meeting after TNM published the report, and her team independently investigated the transgender women’s narratives.
She admitted that a group of village elders took decisions there, and said, “There is a system in Induvalu by which nine village heads come together to take care of temple and festival activities. They are tasked with taking decisions on religious activities – and should not interfere as far as legal situations are concerned.”
“We planned a meeting with both village heads and members of the transgender community and also included district officials. We listened to the issues on both sides and then made them aware of their legal provisions," G Radhika told TNM.
The peacekeeping meeting was mediated by police officials at Mandya Rural Police Station, and was attended by members of the transgender community in Mandya, village heads of Induvala, Thoobinakere, Raagimuddanahalli and Karaswadi, and L Nagesh, the Tehsildar of Mandya.
In the meeting, members of the transgender community questioned village heads of Induvalu and district authorities about the decision taken to evict them from the village. In response, Chandrashekhar Gowda, one of the village heads of Induvala, stated that the decision was taken after complaints were raised by residents of the village.
He also suggested that hostels should be constructed for members of the transgender community – a suggestion that wasn’t acceptable to the community, who have insisted that they want to be part of the society, and not relegated to a corner.
Ramya* and other members of the community who attended the meeting said that they prefer to take up residence in the houses they previously lived in, at Induvala and Thoobinakere.
Ramya,a trans woman and activist, confirmed that eight members of the transgender community attended the meeting and submitted a letter to the SP, DC and Tehsildar of Mandya, requesting a speedy resolution to the issue of accommodating transgender persons who were forcibly evicted from these villages over the last two years.
"We have submitted a letter and also questioned the village head of Induvala about why all transgender persons were evicted from the village. However, the drive to evict transgender persons from Thoobinakere and Raagimuddanahalli were not discussed," Ramya said.
She however said that the dialogue between village heads and members of the transgender community in Induvala was the first of its kind in the district, and expressed hope that members of the transgender community will find it easier to arrange a place to stay in the future.
"This was a step in the right direction. We hope that there is a resolution by which members of our community can co-exist and live with other residents in Induvala. We have been told by police that they will support us in case we face problems in convincing house owners in Induvala," she added.
*Name changed on request.