Updated: January 12, 2022 9:29:24 pm
Seventy-two hours after four transgenders in Tripura’s Agartala complained of police harassment, the city police on Wednesday denied their allegations as “baseless” and said they were arrested after they failed to give a “satisfactory reply”.
In a statement, the police said they received a complaint on Saturday night that four people in “girl costumes” were demanding money from those passing through the Battala and Melarmath areas of Agartala.
They added that a team of officers along with women personnel apprehended the four. “On inquiry, they could not give any satisfactory reply. Accordingly, they were brought to West Agartala PS after causing arrest under section 151 Cr.P.C observing all legal formalities,” the police said in the statement.
The police said the arrested individuals “confessed that they were male” and were released on bail the next day. They also claimed that the West Tripura Chief Judicial Magistrate was informed about the arrests.
On their part, the transgenders alleged they were forced to strip in the presence of male police personnel and also furnish a written undertaking they would never cross-dress again, failing which they could be arrested.
“During the enquiry, it was found that the allegation is baseless,” according to the statement.
A senior Tripura Police official advised the four to approach the police accountability commission or human rights authorities. “If anyone is responsible, they will not be spared,” he said.
A key functionary of the state government, who didn’t wish to be named, said: “I have heard about the issue. It’s very unfortunate.”
On Wednesday evening, Tripura Opposition leader Manik Sarkar wrote to Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and sought his intervention to conduct an impartial inquiry by a senior secretary level official, identify those guilty of the alleged incident of harassment of the four individuals and initiate appropriate legal action against them.
Sarkar said he was “shocked, ashamed and aggrieved” at the news of ‘physical and mental harassment’ of four LGBTQ individuals at West Agartala Women’s Police Station and West Agartala Police Station and demanded officials in charge of those stations must be removed from duty immediately.
Terming the incident as “abuse of State power” and violation of citizen and human rights, the Opposition leader demanded the government to ensure the safety, security and dignity of LGBTQ individuals.
On Monday, the four people held a press conference and complained about the violation of their rights, including those provided by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) judgment of the Supreme Court. They said they were on their way home from a party when they were stopped by the police and a person claiming to be a reporter.
They also alleged they were bullied and later taken to the West Agartala Women Police Station and then forced to walk to the West Agartala Police Station in the cold on Saturday night. The four trans-people—Rupak alias Mohini, who filed the complaint against the police, Sangam, Raj and Tapas—also alleged they were denied food and water.
They further claimed the police confiscated their wigs and inner garments and that the videos of their harassment at the hands of the police have gone viral—affecting their personal lives and livelihoods.
Eminent lawyers, artists, actors, rights activists, LGBTQIA+ individuals and cultural forums have lent their support to the four and termed the police action as “shameful”.
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