Death beckons, a day after the Sexual Minority Pride Rally; Condoling the death of Vamshi Raju, a transgender person

Praja Rajakiya Vedike

Press Release

Death beckons, a day after the Sexual Minority Pride Rally

Condoling the death of Vamshi Raju, a transgender person

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Bangalore, 25 Nov 2013: It’s just a day after the Pride Rally. The sexual minority community from far and near danced with gay abandon and shouted slogans in their attractive attires even as sparkling rainbow colours set the mood for members of sexual minorities to come out of the closet and indulge in a public show of affection and togetherness on Sunday to create awareness among the public and especially families of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

But all is not well and the community is still not accepted by even the families who have a member who has a different sexual orientation/gender identity than the one normally accepted. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members undergo regular violence at the hands of their own families, neighbours and many other sections of the society, not to talk about the police atrocities.

“Vamshi Raju, a 21-yar-old Engineering student and a transgender from Yeshwantpur, who danced openly on Sunday at the Pride Rally was captured by TV Cameras and the family could not miss these visuals in the evening news. Sunday night there was a big fight as he returned home from the rally. Unable to bear the denial from his own family, a depressed Vamshi committed suicide,” said Manohar Elavarthi, a human rights activist and joint secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV).

“It is not the first time. Even last week he faced severe physical violence by his father at his home and had to seek shelter in a transgender friend’s house at about 11 pm,” added Manohar. “He was going through a lot of family harassment for more than a year. His family was harassing him so that he won’t interact with sexual minority community members. They have even stopped him from going to his college for 2 months last year,” he revealed.

Acceptance at homes, not just from the public, is a big challenge for members of the sexual minorities who come out into the open with their sexual and gender preferences. Praja Rajakiya Vedike demands the police to investigate and file an FIR immediately. Though he was a pant-shirt Kothi, Vamshi was open about his identity and used to dress in a saari on occasions. A lot of members from these communities face tough mental health issues that needs to be addressed by NGOs and the government agencies to assure them that they too have equal rights as all citizens of India.

Many human rights organisations, Community Based Organisations, NGOs working for the rights of Sexual Minorities have condemned the harassment meted out to the Vamshi and conveyed their deep condolences at the death of another member of the community.

For details call Manohar at 963222 3460 or 94839 50202

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Bangalore Protest to condemn police terror on sexual minorities in Hassan

Over 200 people protested at Town hall today to condemn the police terror in Hassan against Sexual Minorities last week. The protest is organised by Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum. Praja Rajakiya Vedike and many other organisations took part in today’s protest. 

Hassan Protest Banner English and Kannada

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Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum

Press Release

Protest to condemn police terror on sexual minorities in Hassan

Bangalore, 11 Nov 2013: Over 200 sexual minorities including hijras and other supporters protested at Town hall today to condemn the police terror in Hassan against Sexuality and Gender Minorities last week.

They demanded withdrawal of all cases including under section 377 against the 13 members of the sexuality minority community in Hassan.

During the midnight hours of Nov 3 and 4, when the whole country was celebrating Diwali, the Hassan police carried out a systematic raid arresting 13 persons under Section 377 of the IPC and other sections. They were charged under 3 separate FIRs.

In the first FIR the complainant, a 21-year college student, alleged that in 2011 he was coerced into having sex with 6 persons. These 6 persons, according to him, threatened him saying that they would reveal his history in his college as well as to his parents. He said that he was forced into having `unnatural’ sex and hence he was infected with HIV.  It is only now in 2013 that he had the courage to report on what had allegedly happened to him two years ago.

“The police began the midnight operation by going to the house the programme officer of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, an NGO implementing the State government’s HIV prevention program, and pressurised him to identify the project staff members. From there the programme officer was taken to the house of a sexual minority person, who was in turn coerced to give the names of other sexual minorities. Using this method, the police arrested 5 from their homes and 8 from other public places,” said Mallappa, President of Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, which formed a coalition of organisations to fight these type of harassment.

“The arrests and methods used clearly indicates their intention of spreading fear and terror among the gender minority community and the huge visibility in the media resulting in shaming and humiliating the arrested persons. All of the arrested were also harassed in the jails,” he added.

The modus operandi was to target members of the community, ignoring the fact that as per the judgement of the Delhi High Court in Naz Foundation v. NCR Delhi, sexual minorities are full citizens of India.

“Just when the struggle for equal citizenship of sexual minorities is slowly getting established, the mass scale of the Hassan arrests pushes sexual minorities underground. The arrests are a reminder of the arbitrary power vested in Section 377 of the IPC in local police officers and hence the urgent need for the repeal of this draconian provision,” said human rights activist Manohar Elavarthi, who founded Sangama, which fights for the rights of sexuality minorities.

The protesters main demands are:

  1. Withdrawal of prosecution against all the accused under Section 377 of the IPC

  2. Suspend and Prosecute Mr Ravi D Channanavar (SP), Mr Mahesh JE (PSI), Mr Krishna SK (PSI) and other police officers responsible for the fabrication of cases

  3. Compensation to all the arrested for the harm to reputation done by the false and frivolous prosecutions.

  4. Ensure that there is no sexual abuse/harassment of sexual minority prisoners in the jail by ensuring separate cells

  5. Repeal Section 377 of the IPC

According to Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum (KSMF), the protest was organised along with Abhayaspandana, Alternative Law forum, Aneka, Apthamitra, Jeeva, Jyothi Mahila Sangha, Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU), Milana, Navasahaja, Navaspoorthy, Nisarga, Pragathi, Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV), Prakruthi Seva Samsthe, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)-Karnataka, Raksha, Sadhane, Samara, Samara Dharwad, Samara Doddaballapura, Samara Jayanagara, Samara Ramanagara, Samara Yeshwanthpura, Samatha, Sammelana, Sangama, Sanjeevini, Sarathya, Sneha Society, Shristy Sankula, Sweekar, Vimochana and other supportive organisations.

For details call Mallappa, KSMF, at 95915 40181 or Manohar Elavarthi at 94839 50202.

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PAMPHLETS

Hassan Leaflet English Page1 Hassan Leaflet English Page2 Hassan Leaflet Kannada Page1 Hassan Leaflet Kannada Page2

Police let go Rishav Gupta, arrest Sanaulla: Manipuri girls trafficking case – Press release

Press Release

Bangalore, 22 Aug 2013: The Banashankari police have arrested Sanaulla alias Sam Edwin on Tuesday in connection with the trafficking of two Manipuri girls in July which came to light after Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV), rescued the girls last month. However, the Police let go Rishav Gupta, the owner of a commercial shop in a City Mall, in whose house one of the girls was detained illegally for about 40 days. The other girl was detained in Rishav’s father-in-law MK Girdhar’s house.

After a lot of pressure from PRV and other human rights and dalit organisations, police have booked him under anti-trafficking sections of IPC, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, SC/ST (Prevention of atrocities) Act. Earlier they were booked only under IPC sections 34, 420 and 342.

Rishav Gupta, MK Girdhar and Mala, the agent who kept the girls for two days before placing them in the two houses, were allowed to go scot free. While Sanaulla was arrested, why Rishav Gupta and his family members, who were questioned by police inside the police station were not arrested.

Sanaulla was accused in crime number: 0312/2013 in the 3rd Addl CMM Court, Nrupatunga Road, Bangalore, (Banashankari PS). Rishav Gupta is the owner of a commercial shop in the Gopalan Innovation Mall, Bannerghatta road. The trafficked girls were illegally detained in his house and the house of his father-in-law MK Girdhar.

Originally only 4 people Nengkhochin (the agent who approached the girls’ parents in Manipur), Sanaulla, Mala, Sarath (Mala’s brother) were added as accused. Later police have added the families of Rishav Gupta and MK Girdhar to the list of accused but Police have not arrested them, in spite of them being in police station yesterday.

Rishav Gupta was connected to commercial establishments called the Kiara Bags and Renaissance International (which deals with antique clocks). The shops are located in Gopalan Innovation Mall, JP Nagar, Opposite Shoppers Stop, Bannerghatta Road and in The Total Mall, Old Airport Road, Bangalore.

“The Manipuri Girls were made to sleep on the floor, verbally abused, made to work for 16-18 hours a day, were not allowed to go out and their mobile phones were taken away for sometime. The mobile phones were returned only after deleting Mala’s and other phone numbers. Many times the girls have to make phone calls secretly from the bathroom as they were prevented from making phone calls,” said Manohar Elavarthi of PRV.

PRV also questions, why the Manipur police did not arrest Nengkhochin, though a complaint was filed against her in Moirang police station more than a month ago? She is the one who approached the girls’ families in Manipur and trafficked them to Bangalore.

The Manipuri girls have identified the houses where they were detained:

  1. One in Banashakari where Rishav Gupta lives with his wife Ruchika Gupta, His parents Vimal Gupta and Aruna Gupta and his two children.

At House No. 61, Mathrukrupa, 3rd Cross, Park Road, Katriguppe, Banashankari 3rd Stage, Bangalore – 85

  1. The other girls was detained at JP Nagar, in the house of MK Girdhar, father-in-law of Rishav Gupta, who lives with his wife Veena Giridhar, and his unmarried daughter Swathi Girdhar.

House no 34, 25th Main, LIC Colony, 1st Phase, JP Nagar, Bangalore

Earlier, Ms. The Them Ngankhothang, 19 years, one of the victims, who was trafficked from Churachandpur, Manipur, has lodged a written complaint. However, it is felt that the police were trying to water down the case by booking the culprits only under a cheating case.

Last month following a request from Kuki Students Association of Bangalore, Praja Rajakiya Vedike managed to rescue two teenage girls from city houses where they were placed as domestic help against their will by an agent who trafficked them from Manipur. Two girls, who were just 19-year-old, were lured by an agent, Nengkhochin, and were promised jobs in a beauty parlour for a salary of Rs.5000 per month along with free food and accommodation.

“After arriving from Guwahati by train along with the agent, we were handed over to another agent, Mala, in Bangalore. Mala, who speaks a bit of Kuki language, stays in the city with her husband and after keeping us for 2 days separated us and placed us as domestic maids, one in Banashankari and the other in JP Nagar on June 1,” the girl said in her complaint to the Banashankari police.

“A lot of migrant labour arrive from the states of Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and other north-eastern states to Karnataka to work as hotel workers, security guards and other forms of labour. There is an urgent need to form regulations for their security and to protect them as they are under the mercy of unscrupulous contractors,” said Manohar.

For details call Manohar Elavarthi at 963 222 3460 or 94839 50202

Two detained (Rishav Gupta and Sanaulla alias Sam Edwin) in Manipuri girls’ trafficking case

rishav gupta3Two Manipuri girls were rescued last month by PRV and one of the girls Ms. The Them has filed a case in the Banashankari Police Station, who detained two persons. One is Sanaullah, alias Sam Edwin, (below 2nd from left in blue shirt) and the other is Rishav Gupta (top).

Samiullah is second from left in Blue shirt

Samiullah is second from left in Blue shirt

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Sanaullah, alias Sam Edwin

CORRECTION – Press Release ‘Sangama wins Lesbian case in Kerala High Court’ dated 13th August, 2013

We regret to inform you that an error creeped in due to oversight while receiving communication over phone in the para 4 where advocates Mr. BT Venkatesh and Ms. Asha were misquoted.

 

(https://prajarajakiya.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/sangama-wins-lesbian-case-in-kerala-high-court-press-release/)

 

This note is being issued to clarify the original statement attributed to advocates Mr. BT Venkatesh and Ms. Asha should be read as follows: But unfortunately emotional blackmail has happened in Saranya’s case where the girl was forced to return to her parents.

 

 

Manohar Elavarthi

Joint Secretary

Praja Rajakiya Vedike

Seeking judicial guidelines in Habeas Corpus petitions relating to women – Press Release

Press Release

Bangalore, 14 Aug 2013: Sruthi, a lesbian from Kerala, put up a brave front and declared today that she would fight legally for the release of Saranya, her friend and partner, from the clutches of her family.

Addressing a press conference at the Institute of Agricultural Technologists on Wednesday, the 21-year-old B.Com graduate narrated how she was threatened by the Kerala police in the Kerala High Court premises yesterday. “Mr Anil Kumar, the Sub-Inspector, was forcing me to go back to my parents and threatened me of dire consequences. But I told the honourable court that I do not want to go back to my parents house,’’ Sruthi said.

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The Press Conference was arranged by ReachLaw and Praja Rajakiya Vedike to reveal the details of a campaign taken up to press for creating guidelines to deal with cases of Habeas Corpus petitions relating to women. Prominent city lawyer and human rights activist, Mr BT Venkatesh, a partner in Reach Law, a law firm and Mr Elavarthi Manohar of Praja Rajakiya Vedike addressed the media along with Sruthi.

“The Shornur SI Mr Anil Kumar also threatened me and others including advocates Ms Asha Unnithan, Mr Jahangeer Paleri, Mr. Abhilash and Ms. Nithu, a human rights activist and when we reminded him that he is in the court premises, he tried to intimidate us by saying `come out of the court, we will see’,’’ said Mr Venkatesh, who along with advocate Ms Asha Unnithan, represented Sruthi, fought and won the case. They filed a complaint with the Registrar General of the High Court of Kerala that Kerala police have threatened them in the premises of the court.

In reply to a question, Mr Venkatesh also narrated the landmark judgment in the case Rajmohan MS vs State of Kerala in the Kerala High Court where the honourable court ruled that even a friend or partner or a spouse can file a Habeas Corpus petition. He felt that abuse of procedures during Habeas Corpus petitions should be looked into and urged for urgent guidelines to be framed. “We have started an online petition LET WOMEN DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES: relationship, marriage, friendship… Need for guidelines in cases of Habeas Corpus on avaaz.org (http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/LET_WOMEN_DECIDE_FOR_THEMSELVES_relationship_marriage_friendship_Need_for_guidelines_in_cases_of_Habeas_Corpus/?fbdm)

requesting the public and after a few days we will submit the petition to honourable Chief Justice of Kerala High Court Justice Manjula Chellur,’’ said Manohar Elavarthi. He also said “women are no way less than men, adult women are capable of making their own decisions like any human being in the society. Any section of society treating adult women as property of their father/ husband/ son/ family is illegal and is highly condemnable.”

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On Tuesday, the honourable High court of Kerala dismissed the case of Habeas Corpus petition filed by the mother of Sruthi, alleging that the Bangalore based well-known NGO Sangama had detained her against her will.

For details call Manohar 963222 3460

Sangama wins Lesbian case in Kerala High Court – Press Release

Press Release

Bangalore, 13 Aug 2013:  The Kerala High Court today dismissed a writ petition against a Lesbian represented by Sangama, after the honourable court inquired and proved false the allegations made by her mother and Sruthi was set free to make her own decision. In a stunning judgment, Justice Anthony Dominic said: “She is free to go anywhere she wants,’’ a freedom denied to many adult women who struggle to get out of their `parents’ protection’.

On Tuesday, the honourable High court of Kerala dismissed the case of Habeas Corpus petition filed by the mother of Sruthi, alleging that the Bangalore based well-known NGO Sangama had detained her against her will. She also further alleged that her daughter would be subjected to prostitution and the honourable high court in the presence of Sruthi and her parents, and representatives of Sangama including its Director Gurukiran Kamath, heard the case. Sruthi interacted with her family and gave them confidence that she is pursuing education at Bangalore and wish to be responsible for her own life and asked them not to worry about her.

When questioned by the court on the allegations made against Sangama and of her alleged detention by Sangama, Sruthi informed Justice Anthony Dominic that all the allegations were false and that she is at Bangalore on her own will and that she has moved to Bangalore to pursue her education and employment. The court then dismissed the writ petition.

Prominent city lawyer and human rights activist, Mr BT Venkatesh and advocate Ms Asha of Thrissur represented Sruthi. “The practice in Habeas Corpus cases in Kerala against women was always against the Constitutionally guaranteed Fundamental Rights. The courts are supposed to be the guardian of these Fundamental Rights. But unfortunately Judicial Intimidation has happened in Saranya’s case where the girl was forced to return to her parents. Fortunately, in this case, the alleged detenue Sruthi came up to the standards of the courageous women and was not overtaken or overwhelmed by the unfriendly atmosphere of the court hall which emphasizes that only courageous and empowered women can have their freedom like that of men”.

A beaming Sruthi, who was at the centre of the case, said after coming out of the court: “I had voluntarily moved out of my native place along with my partner and friend Saranya as our families were opposed to our relationship.’’ She also added: “Saranya’s father made wild allegations against me stating that I had kidnapped and taken away Saranya for illegal and immoral activities. He also deliberately supressed the facts and indulged in emotional blackmail to take back Saranya away from me clandestinely. I am also pursuing to secure the release of Saranya from the detention of her parents.’’

Sruthi also stated that Sangama is one of the finest organisations providing protection and security to give member like me from the marginalised communities, the confidence to lead a free and independent life. The allegations made against Sangama were made with an intention to compel me to go back to my parents and to discourage me to pursue my career in Bangalore.

She also said that she loves and respect her parents and that allegations made against her and Sangama were made forced on my mother by some persons to misled my mother to file this petition. “My mother has been very supportive of me and I know that it is not my mother’s intention to file a petition against me,’’ she felt.

Gurukiran Kamath, Director of Sangama, stated that it is unfortunate that such false allegations were made against Sangama, an organisation that is striving to protect the human rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other marginalised sections of society for over a decade. He said despite the best efforts to bring down the name of our organisation by such wild allegations, Sangama would never waver from its commitment to these communities. He said the order of the honorable High Court re-affirms their belief that right of choice is a fundamental right that can never be violated by anyone including the state agencies. “Sangama has supported many lesbians and transgenders who migrated from Kerala to Bangalore in the past 10 years and will continue to support them in future as well,’’ he declared.

Manohar Elavarthi, Joint Secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike expressed his happiness at the judgement. He said: “the rights of lesbians are routinely violated in different parts of India and there is a need for all human rights groups to extend their support. PRV extends its full support to Sruthi in getting the release of Saranya.’’ He appealed to all human rights and progressive groups to extend support to Sruthi’s struggle and struggles of millions of sexual minorities in India. “The brave efforts of Sruthi will help many more in future in creating a society free from homophobia,’’ Manohar, who is also the founder of Sangama, concluded.

For details call Gurukiran 98803 65692 or Manohar 963222 3460On Tuesday, the honourable High court of Kerala dismissed the case of Habeas Corpus petition filed by the mother of Sruthi, alleging that the Bangalore based well-known NGO Sangama had detained her against her will. She also further alleged that her daughter would be subjected to prostitution and the honourable high court in the presence of Sruthi and her parents, and representatives of Sangama including its Director Gurukiran Kamath, heard the case. Sruthi interacted with her family and gave them confidence that she is pursuing education at Bangalore and wish to be responsible for her own life and asked them not to worry about her.

When questioned by the court on the allegations made against Sangama and of her alleged detention by Sangama, Sruthi informed Justice Anthony Dominic that all the allegations were false and that she is at Bangalore on her own will and that she has moved to Bangalore to pursue her education and employment. The court then dismissed the writ petition.

Prominent city lawyer and human rights activist, Mr BT Venkatesh and advocate Ms Asha of Thrissur represented Sruthi. “The practice in Habeas Corpus cases in Kerala against women was always against the Constitutionally guaranteed Fundamental Rights. The courts are supposed to be the guardian of these Fundamental Rights. But unfortunately Judicial Intimidation has happened in Saranya’s case where the girl was forced to return to her parents. Fortunately, in this case, the alleged detenue Sruthi came up to the standards of the courageous women and was not overtaken or overwhelmed by the unfriendly atmosphere of the court hall which emphasizes that only courageous and empowered women can have their freedom like that of men”.

A beaming Sruthi, who was at the centre of the case, said after coming out of the court: “I had voluntarily moved out of my native place along with my partner and friend Saranya as our families were opposed to our relationship.’’ She also added: “Saranya’s father made wild allegations against me stating that I had kidnapped and taken away Saranya for illegal and immoral activities. He also deliberately supressed the facts and indulged in emotional blackmail to take back Saranya away from me clandestinely. I am also pursuing to secure the release of Saranya from the detention of her parents.’’

Sruthi also stated that Sangama is one of the finest organisations providing protection and security to give member like me from the marginalised communities, the confidence to lead a free and independent life. The allegations made against Sangama were made with an intention to compel me to go back to my parents and to discourage me to pursue my career in Bangalore.

She also said that she loves and respect her parents and that allegations made against her and Sangama were made forced on my mother by some persons to misled my mother to file this petition. “My mother has been very supportive of me and I know that it is not my mother’s intention to file a petition against me,’’ she felt.

Gurukiran Kamath, Director of Sangama, stated that it is unfortunate that such false allegations were made against Sangama, an organisation that is striving to protect the human rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other marginalised sections of society for over a decade. He said despite the best efforts to bring down the name of our organisation by such wild allegations, Sangama would never waver from its commitment to these communities. He said the order of the honorable High Court re-affirms their belief that right of choice is a fundamental right that can never be violated by anyone including the state agencies. “Sangama has supported many lesbians and transgenders who migrated from Kerala to Bangalore in the past 10 years and will continue to support them in future as well,’’ he declared.

Manohar Elavarthi, Joint Secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike expressed his happiness at the judgement. He said: “the rights of lesbians are routinely violated in different parts of India and there is a need for all human rights groups to extend their support. PRV extends its full support to Sruthi in getting the release of Saranya.’’ He appealed to all human rights and progressive groups to extend support to Sruthi’s struggle and struggles of millions of sexual minorities in India. “The brave efforts of Sruthi will help many more in future in creating a society free from homophobia,’’ Manohar, who is also the founder of Sangama, concluded.

For details call Gurukiran 98803 65692 or Manohar 963222 3460