PUCL , 2002
Sat, 23 Mar 2002
Police intrusion into SANGAMA, Bangalore
have been working with hijras, kothis, and homosexual/bisexual men from
the poor and non-English speaking backgrounds for the last 2 years. Recently
(1 month ago) we have started a drop-in/meeting space every Sunday from
3 p.m to 6 p.m in our office. Our office is in the Flat 13 (3rd Floor)
of the 'Royal Park' Apartments. There are only two residences (out of
16 flats) in the 'Royal Park' apartments, which are situated on the first
and second floors. The rest are offices, which remain closed on Sundays.
the 17th of March 2002 (Sunday) one of the residents, Mr. Ashok Kattimani
an ex-MLC sent for one of Sangama's office staff at 3:00 p.m who was present
at the meeting. He stated that since there were families present in the
building, we shouldn't allow hijras (most people including Mr. Kattimani
and Police don't differentiate between kothis and hijras, at times they
even call gay/homosexual/bisexual men 'hijras') to come there. He also
alleged that hijras were having late night dance parties in our office.
This is an absolute lie. Some of the other people present at the meeting
on that day were Shakun of
Vimochana, Dr. Ramdas Rao of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
- Karnataka, Prof. N. Babbiah and Sridhar of People's Democratic Forum,
Arvind Narrain of Alternative Law Forum, Muddappa from Development Initiatives
for Social Concerns, who were part of a fact-finding report on the Police
harassment faced by street-based male/kothi/hijra sex-workers.
At 5 p.m the fact-finding report team left and 3 police men in plainclothes
walked into Sangama's office and demanded to know of the nature of our
work. Two of them were from Shivajinagar police station and one of them
from the Commercial street police station (our office comes under this
police station). They spoke to some of us in the library, where they checked
a few books and left after fifteen minutes with a copy of Sangama's registration
document s and a list of Sangama's Governing Body members along with phone
its President Dr. Shyama Narang, its Secretary Elavarthi Manohar (who
is also the program co- ordinator of Sangama) and two others, Arvind Narrain
and Dr. Shekhar Seshadri (Child Psychiatrist in NIMHANS).
also told Sangama staff that an Inspector would be visiting the office
and within 15 minutes, the Sub Inspector from Commercial Street police
station, came with 3 plainclothes police men. They again took the details
office, copies of registration documents and aims and objectives of Sangama.
The other policemen did a thorough search of the office while the Inspector
was speaking to two of us. The Inspector said that hijras cannot have
a meeting in the residential locality, which according to him 'humiliated'
the people. He advised us not to have the Sunday meetings any more in
the office and to
have it in the out-skirts of the city. The Inspector also inspected a
few CDs, which were software program CDs by asking Sangama staff members
to run these CDs on the computer. They also insisted that the meeting
be closed immediately and said that the complaint was from the local residents.
The meeting continued despite this intrusion for the next 30 minutes.
We closed the meeting/drop-in space for that day at 6:00 p.m.
The next day, we spoke to the owner of our flat. He was extremely supportive
and continues to be so. We heard from him that Mr. Ashok Kattimani was
busy rallying support from other flat owners (many of whom were not even
aware of our Sunday meetings in spite of us being there since 1/1/2002).
of Mr. Kattimani's romours include: 200 hijras/homosexuals visit Sangama
on Sundays, where they consume alcohol/drugs and have sex. He even
alleged that the 'whole building smells of drugs' (sic) on Sundays. We
also heard about the comments of another flat owner, a reputed real-estate
lawyer who said that 'we can't legally do anything but if these people
continue to be here, I may loose my image and loose some of my clients
If you don't get them out soon, the commercial value of this building
will go down'.
had meeting with some of our supporters on the 19th (Tuesday) where it
was decided that we approach Police Officials and to start a dialogue
with Mr. Kattimani and other flat owners. Representatives
of PUCL, Manasa and Sangama met Mr. K. L. Sudhir (Deputy Commissioner
of Police -Administration, who is a representative of the City Police
Commissioner) on March 22, Friday and handed over a letter signed by Peoples
Union for Civil Liberties - Karnataka (PUCL-K), Vimochana, Manasa, AITUC
- All India Trade Union Congress,
Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF), Centre for Workers Management (CWM), Alternative
Law Forum (ALF), Development Initiatives for Social Concerns
(DISC), Pedestrian Pictures, Slum Jagattu, Sangama, Swabhava, Samvada,
Nele, and Jaarbande.
demanded for an end to this kind of Police harassment. He (the DCP) immediately
spoke to the Commercial Street and Shivajinagar Police Stations
and asked them to stop this. He informed us that apparently Mr. Kattimani
had gone to the Commercial Street Police Station with 15 women and complained
that 'hijras are a threat to the security of women'.
are planning to meet the Inspector General of Police (Human Rights) soon.
We have decided against going to the media at this point of time. We are
strengthened by the support and concern of many individuals and groups
in Bangalore and elsewhere. Sangama is functioning as usual and will continue
with its Sunday meetings (tomorrow). We don't expect any harassment from
the Police. We will let you know of future developments.
Famila, Kumar, Lakshmi, Manohar, Nithin,
Revathi, Roshan, Sharada, Sumathi