A case of alleged harassment has come to light with four members of the LGBTQIA+ community at a police station in Tripura's capital Agartala by the police. It is alleged that they were made to undress in public in order to reveal their gender identity at the women's police station and then were taken to the nearby men's police station half-naked, where the authorities left them freezing in the cold overnight.
It was also revealed that during this time these people were not allowed to contact their family or friends. This incident happened on Saturday, but on Monday, the community members, including the victim, held a press conference at the Agartala Press Club to inform people regarding the harassment they faced at the police station, following which some video clips of the incident were published in the local media which soon went viral.
Mohini, a member of the group that made the allegation, said, "The whole matter started when a man started molesting her in a bar on Saturday night. This person, who pretended to be a press reporter, was forcing her without her consent." She added, "When we were returning home, that reporter came with the police and claimed that the transperson was actually a boy disguised as a girl to enter the bar without any hassle." Mohini however denied such allegations.
According to Mohini's claim, the police took her to the police station without any explanation and along with the reporter torturing her mentally and physically, the policemen continued to behave in an uncivilised manner, stripping and undressing her all the way from West Agartala Women Police Station to the West Agartala police station for men. Mohini said that they had gone to the bar to party, but they had to face such abuse on their return home. Mohini also told that the police confiscated her mobile phones cutting her contact with her family members and friends.
Lawyer Nilanjana Rai, who deals with the legal matters of the LGBT community in the state, says that wearing clothes of another gender is not an offence under any law. Nilanjana said, “There is an absolute lack of awareness about the LGBT community, so I appeal to the media publications to give priority to this issue so that people of the LGBT community can be saved from such harassment in the future. LGBTQIA plus rights activist Sneha Gupta Rai organized the press conference along with other members of the community. "It is humiliating for the people of the state to come to the fore of such a matter," lawyer Nilanjana Rai said. "The LGBTQ Community is still considered taboo in society."
Gender identity is a matter of one's personal choice and womanhood is a process of mental thinking, not physical." In this case, Mohini has filed a case with her colleagues in the same West Agartala police station where she had to spend the whole night being tortured.
Members and activists of the LGBT community have urged the state Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb to take immediate action against the policemen deemed guilty of the case. Deb is currently also the Home Minister of the state. The victim proclaims that only by giving justice and respect to the victims, the community can be saved from harassment in future. However, a senior officer of West Agartala police station has denied these allegations. He said that on Saturday, the police had received information about some men in women's dress in a particular area, after which they were detained on the basis of suspicion.
According to the police officer, those who were detained were sent for medical tests and released the next morning, but during this time none of the members told the police that they were members of the LGBT community.