A day after the mysterious death of Tara, a 28-year-old transgender woman in front of a police station in Chennai, three videos have surfaced. While two videos show the police and her arguing, a third video has her statement, taken some time before she passed away at the Kilpauk Medical College.
Tara who was working as an Outreach worker with NGOs including Sahodaran and Sinegathi, was found severely burnt outside the Pondy Bazaar police station on Wednesday morning.
Police from the Pondy Bazaar station allegedly stopped Tara and accused her of soliciting customers for sex work. They confiscated her mobile phone and the keys of her vehicle.
In a video shot by police at the Pondy Bazaar street, she can be seen repeatedly saying that she had not done anything wrong. “If I did anything wrong, I would have accepted it. I am not the kind of person to do this. The SI is being unjust,” she says. Then Tara can be heard warning the police that she would set herself on fire and the police would be answerable to the government.
Grab from video 1
She also blames the police of taking away her bike keys and mobile phone. A policeman (who can only be heard in video) replies that he had returned it, but she says that he had kept it in his pocket.
When she tells the policemen that she has her rights, one of the policemen says, “Human rights is not just for you, but for us too.”
The video ends with Tara walking away from the cops.
Tara walking away
In a second video shot by a policeman, Tara can be seen saying repeatedly that she ‘did not do it’. After which a policeman asks her, “Why did you hit the sub inspector with a stone?” She replies by saying that she did not do anything and the police accuses her of being drunk.
The policeman can also be heard asking her to tie her saree properly. Tara is highly emotional through this video and keeps repeating that she never did anything and she was not that 'kind of person'. She later goes and falls on the pavement.
The video ends with one of the policemen asking her to get up. (The video does not have any cops in frame).
Though the events before and after these two videos are not clear, Tara told her friends that police had insulted her. In the two videos that the police shot and promptly distributed to the media, the policemen can only be heard questioning her. In one instance a man is heard using an abuse while Tara lies on the ground.
On October 9, around 4:30am, Tara was found burnt inside the Pondy Bazaar police station compound and died around 10am at the Kilpauk Medical College. The transgender community had blamed the police for her death.
They said that Tara had gone to Pondy Bazaar to recharge her phone around 4 am, the police took away her mobile phone and bike keys accusing her of sex work. She called her friends and informed them about the incident. When they came looking for her, she was found lying burnt.
In the third video which was shot the hospital by her friends, she says that policemen seized her vehicle, insulted her and asked her to go die. She then says she immolated herself using petrol.
Banu, an engineering student, said, “When we asked police for the CCTV footage, they claimed that CCTV was not working for a long time. It is such a crowded place; how did they manage security during Deepavali then?” asks Banu.
Moreover, she alleges that the police did not make any chalk marking around the place she was found burnt. They did not even stop her from injuring herself.
She added, “When everyone is struggling with Rs 500 and 1000 notes at petrol pumps, how did she get petrol to immolate herself?” asked Banu.
(TNM reporter has seen all three videos)