The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eunuchs in castration cry

Bhopal, Oct. 16: Expressions of shock, shame and condemnation have come in after the rape of a European embassy employee in Delhi from across the political spectrum, but from somewhere on its edges has come a concrete proposal to deal with the crime.

Eunuch-politician Suraiya said here that men guilty of rape should be castrated and suggested that deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi should seriously consider it as the most suitable and exemplary punishment.

“If you consider the gravity of the crime, you will realise that castration is just and a rather permanent solution to eliminate the sin,” Suraiya said while unveiling the manifesto of the Jeeti Jitai Party, a political outfit eunuchs have floated in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

The manifesto has several promises akin to those of the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP, but strikes out in pledging an amendment to Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with rape. If voted to power, the party would insert castration as a punishment for rape instead of the existing provision for seven years’ imprisonment that can be extended to 10, apart from a fine.

Suraiya said the pledge was not an afterthought as the manifesto was printed days before the Siri Fort incident. “Mere words are not enough. The political parties must act instead of merely condemning it,” Suraiya said.

Madhya Pradesh is a state where eunuchs have made their mark in the political arena. Shabnam Mausi became the country’s first eunuch MLA when she entered the Bhopal Assembly. There are two mayors and many councillors from her tribe in the state. In the rough-and-tumble world of politics, Shabnam Mausi, Kamla Jaan and others have done rather well to enjoy popular support and a clean image.

They believe their time has come. Suraiya and her tribe claim to be “original Ram bhakts”, quoting from the Ramayana. According to them, when Ram was banished to the forest, he urged all men and women followers to go home. Being neither, the eunuchs waited 14 years for his return. When Ram returned from his vanvas, he found them waiting for him on the banks of the Saryu in Ayodhya. Deeply moved by their devotion, he blessed the outcasts, or so goes the eunuchs’ tale to show that in Kalyug, they will be the political masters.

“The time has come. We are slowly gaining acceptability and popularity,” said Suraiya, who could be pitted against Congress minister Arif Aqueel in the north Bhopal Assembly seat.

Suraiya’s party plans to field 50-odd candidates in the December polls in the hope of snapping up about half a dozen berths in the Assembly. But many feel it is an ambitious target. The eunuchs face several problems and are still considered outcasts in mainstream parties like the Congress, BJP, BSP and the Samajwadi Party. In electoral rolls, they are either registered as male or female, a description they find discriminatory.

A few months ago, Kamla Jaan, the mayor of Katni, was disqualified for allegedly giving “false information” about her gender when she bagged the post from the women’s quota. Kamla lost the case in high court but has now moved Supreme Court. Kamla’s plea is simple — how just is to consider a person as a male or female when “she” happens to be none.

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