PESHAWAR: The transvestites blocked the road to protest the killing of their colleague Alisha, who succumbed to injuries here on Wednesday morning.
The protesting transvestites put the body of Alisha outside Faqirabad police station and blocked the road. The man, who shot her, was still at large, sources said.
However, perhaps it was the first funeral of a transvestite in the province that was attended by members of civil society and all religious rituals were fulfilled.
The transvestites, who brought her body, were a spectacle of pain and helplessness. As if their situation was not tragic enough, passersby on the road watched them protest with quite an amusement. Some of passersby came to uncover the body and see the face of the deceased after hearing that a hijra (transvestite) had died. The transvestites, who had covered their faces due to the crowd, looked angry and helpless at their situation.
Protesters put body outside police station; HR activists, ANP leader attend funeral
“We make people happy in their celebrations with our singing and dancing. This is how they pay us back,” cried out a close friend of Alisha, sitting near her body. She moaned that people made fun of them and didn’t treat them like human beings.
“We are creatures of God. We have not hurt anyone. Then why people hurt us,” she screamed as others around the body also sobbed and cried out for justice.
Alisha, 25, was shot eight times beside her one-room rented residence at Iqbal Plaza near Parda Bagh, Faqirbabad on Sunday night by one of her disgruntled customers.
In her statement to police in hospital, Alisha identified him as Fazal Gujjar, a resident of Bakhshoo Pull. Police had taken some members of his family into custody but the alleged killer was still at large.
“Alisha hailed from Swat but her parents live in Karachi. She doesn’t have any family here but us,” said Farzana Jan, a guru and also president of Shemale Association of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Alisha is the 46th transvestite, who met a violent death during the last two years. She had joined the activist movement for the transvestites’ rights when Transaction Alliance was launched couple of months back. She was board member of Transaction Alliance formed by the civil society and transvestites to create awareness about their rights.
Earlier other members of the alliance including Adnan, Sameer (Chocolate), Komal and Ayesha, all transgender, were also targeted.
“Police are responsible for this death. We don’t have any security,” said Paroo, a close friend of Alisha.
Some anti-social elements abused them and extort money from them by blackmailing them, said Qamar Naseem, who is also a member of the Transaction Alliance. He owned Alisha by holding dua (prayers) at his own home and making arrangements for her funeral.
However, Alisha is perhaps the first transvestite whose funeral prayers were offered openly in which not just transvestites but civil society also took part. A gesture, though after her death, would show that funeral or burial of a transvestite was held with full religious rituals.
Farzana Jan said hat transvestites were human beings and citizens of the country so they had rights to life too. “If transvestites are involved in immoral and illegal activities, police should arrest them. We also have a right to security like other citizens,” she said. She blamed the provincial government and police department for their failure to protect transvestites.
Qamar Naseem said that around 300 cases of violence against transgender were detected. Security of transvestites in the province was a big issue.
Farzana Jan, Naseem Qamar and others did not seem hopeful when they held talks with the officials at Faqirbabad police station.
“Police were just interested in getting this road cleared and protest to end. They did not assure us of any security or arrest of the killer,” said Qamar Naseem.
Police made a lame excuse for such incidents of violence by saying that all of them were in a conflict-affected area so everyone was under attack.
The police officials later told media that they tried to pacify the protesters and would arrest the killer very soon.
Earlier, Alisha and her attendants had to go through a humiliating ordeal when the badly injured transvestite was taken to Lady Reading Hospital on Sunday night. The hospital staff and the attendants with the patients did not take them serious and after failing to get accommodated in male or female ward, they were forced to get a private room in the hospital. Later condition of Alisha deteriorated and she was shifted to ICU but she succumbed to her injuries and died on Wednesday morning.
ANP general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was the only politician to attend the first-ever public funeral of a transvestite in the province, said that police should include provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act in the FIR against the killers of Alisha.
After attending the funeral, he told media that it was not attack on just one transvestite but it also terrorised the entire population of transvestites in the province.
Mr Hussain and a large number of rights activists and even locals turned up at the house of Qamar Naseem to offer fateha for the deceased. Alisha’s own sister had refused to perform the last rites so her large transvestite family and civil society took part in the funeral.
The ANP leader said that inquiry should be held into why Lady Reading Hospital did not provide proper treatment to the deceased despite the directives of provincial assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.
He asked transvestites to forge unity and register their votes so that their opinion could be taken seriously by the political parties. “If the transvestites unite, they could become a pressure group and demand their rights effectively at proper forums,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2016