Kashmir’s transgender community on the verge of starvation

‘First shutdown post Article 370 roll back, now lockdown due to Covid choked our businesses’

Srinagar: The transgender community in Kashmir is finding it hard to survive as they are without any work post abrogation of Article 370 last year and now the ongoing lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic has further choked their business leaving them in the lurch.

The situations that arise post August 5, 2019 have hit their lone source of income and are crumbling under immense challenges.

Amid tears and sobs, a group of people from transgender community here who are putting up as tenants in parts of Srinagar after they were either forced to leave home or faced social stigma, are facing immense challenges as they have not been able to earn their livelihood since last year.

Talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Tariq Ahmad known as Tahira Ji in the transgender community said that over the years, all of them used to work as middlemen and attend marriage functions as dancers and would sing songs to earn a livelihood, which was the sole source of income for their survival.

“For last one year, we have only witnessed curbs and lockdowns and during the period we faced immense hardships. It is the locals in our area who are serving us food as we have not earned even a single penny since last year to buy even bread on our own,” Tariq said.

Tariq said that due to the ongoing pandemic, there is no sigh of relief among the community as no one allows them to enter their home.

“Post August 5 2019 decision and the ongoing lockdown enforced in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has witnessed the worst ever phase. The government never bothered to look into the miseries of our community and extend a helping hand in any manner,” Tariq said.

Azam, another member from the community said that the government has left them abandoned since there is nothing for them from their end. “Even we are being deprived of our genuine rights. Also, this lockdown has confined us to our rooms fearing the spread of virus,” Azam said.

Fayaz Ahmad, known as Chandni Ji, another member from the community said that they don’t beg anything from anyone except Allah. “We are being deprived of whatever is required from the government’s end if compared to those living outside Kashmir,” Fayaz said.

Fayaz further said stated the government has announced Rupees 1000 to each transgender, which is insufficient and wouldn’t help to survive. “With the meager Rupees 1000 only, what can we do? Either to pay our building rent, electricity bills, buy ration or fulfill other important requirements and for that amount we are made to wait for almost a month that leaves our needs unfulfilled,” Fayaz added.

Fayaz further stated that the inaction and policies of the government is compelling them to agitate against them and hit the roads to press for their rights and demands.

Blaming the government for their inaction, the transgender community said that those at the helm of affairs have left them on God’s mercy, adding that the government must initiate some early concrete steps to facilitate the community and give them rights equivalent to other communities.

The other members of the group also echoed similar concerns—(KNO)