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PESHAWAR: Strongly reacting to the ‘highhandedness’ of Mardan police, members of transgender community on Saturday held a demonstration and protest sit-in outside the Peshawar Press Club.

About 200 demonstrators led by Farzana, provincial president of the community, were holding banners and placards inscribed with their demands for taking action against the Mardan police, and providing them with shelter and protection from the police and local influential people.

Sharing details, Farzana alleged that the police had forced owners of residential quarters to get their buildings vacated from the transgender people as they were allegedly involved in vulgar activities.

Allege police forcing them to leave the district

The community chief said that on the one hand, the owners of buildings had given them notices to vacate the residential quarters, on the other the police locked the buildings and forcibly kicked them out to leave Mardan district.

“We are also Pakistani citizens and have the same rights, but police have made our lives extremely miserable. We could hardly convince building owners and get residential quarters on very high rents to live peacefully, but the police are torturing us,” Farzana complained, alleging that police were always after them to conduct their body search, take whatever they have from them.

The provincial president claimed that in case anyone of his community dared to refuse accepting demands of police they had to face consequences. The transgender leader also referred to several cases of violence.

Prior to this, Farzana said, the Nowshera police had also beaten up the transgender people and forced them to leave the district within hours. “We have done nothing wrong. If our people are involved in any sort of crime they should be produced in the court of law,” the provincial president pleaded.

Farzana said that the community had decided to continue the sit-in on Sher Shah Suri Road as it was the only option left with the oppressed people. “We have set up tent, brought chairs and will continue our protest unless the provincial government resolves our problems,” said Farzana.

Representatives of civil society organisations, including Qamar Naseem of Blue Veins, Taimoor Kamal of Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, Mushtaq Durrani of Bacha Khan Welfare Trust, and Suleman of Rashid Shaheed Foundation also condemned the Mardan police and demanded action against them.

“Mushtaq Ghani, adviser to the chief minister on information, talked to Qamar Naseem on phone during the day and assured him to discuss the issue with the chief minister and IGP to ensure protection to the community. However, no practical step was taken in this regard,” said Taimoor Kamal.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2017