If things fall in line, members of transgender community would soon be seen donning the uniform as civic volunteers assisting the Kolkata Police in wide range of duties.
The West Bengal government has requested the Kolkata Police to recruit transgenders in the Civic Police Volunteer Force (CPVC) to end the “stigma” and “discrimination” against the community.
State minister for women and child development, Shashi Panja said she had spoken to the Kolkata Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha suggesting the idea soon after it was brought up during a meeting of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board.
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“The prime issue that we face is that people don’t have respect for the transgender community. But if they are incorporated as volunteers in the civic police force, then it will gradually allow people to imagine them in different roles,” she said.
The state women and child development and social welfare department has recommended that the Kolkata Police begin taking volunteers from the community and after the requisite training, indoctrinate them into the CPVC.
Introduced by the Kolkata Municipality in 2008, initially with the aim of assisting the Kolkata Police in traffic management, the ambit of CPVC’s duties range from collecting information about unauthorised parking, protection of flora and fauna in parks to controlling the pedestrian movement.
The proposal is among the department’s long term efforts towards increasing the inclusion of members of the community into various “respected” roles in society. Another such move is to include members of the transgender community among the judges for Kolkata Shree — an annual competition organised by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to judge the best Durga Puja celebrations in the state capital.
The state government had set up the Transgender Welfare Board in July 2014, after a Supreme Court order recognised transgender people as the “third gender” and directed all state governments and the Centre to extend benefits of all welfare schemes, education healthcare and jobs to them. “Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, too, have transgender welfare boards. But ours is distinct. The idea of welfare is inherently patronising. We are not looking at developing them and bringing them away from the margins,” said a senior official of the department.
Panja, however, admitted that this was easier said than done. “One of the problems we are facing is that many in the community still don’t know about the board and what it is looking to do. The community itself is very close and suspicious of outsiders. But we are going to carry out numerous awareness drives and hope to change this,” she added.
As per the available statistics, the Bengal government puts the number of the transgender community members at 30,349, though activists believe the actual population to be much higher. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, a total of 513 were listed in the electoral rolls as ‘others’.