Data dilemma for transgenders

Lack of documents adds to citizenship woes

Transgenders take part in a rally in Guwahati. File picture

Guwahati: Some of them were abandoned by their families while many left their homes to avoid the insult they faced in society.

Many transgenders in Assam are facing the threat of losing their citizenship as they failed to apply for inclusion of their names in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) due to a lack of sufficient documents.

Rupa Begum (name changed), a transgender, left Bhurunga village in Hailakandi district years ago and reached Guwahati for work. Rupa could not apply for the NRC as she could not go home to collect documents.

"I was chased out of home and beaten up by my brothers as I behaved like a girl. I left home forever and came here. Since then there is no contact with my family members. Nobody was ready to give us a job here and so I had no option but to start begging on trains. I am scared to go home for documents," Rupa told The Telegraph.

A part draft of the NRC, comprising 1.9 crore applicants, was released on Sunday while the rest will be announced in the next draft. Altogether 3.29 crore people have submitted documents for inclusion of their names. The NRC of 1951 is being updated in Assam under the Supreme Court's supervision with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date, as agreed in the Assam Accord of 1985.

Nitu of Nagaon, Mahima of Dhubri and Julie of Noonmati (Guwahati) are some transgenders who were forced to leave home because of social stigma.

They collected money at bus stands, on trains and in markets for a livelihood.

Alarmed by the threat of missing the NRC bus, Swati Bidhan Baruah, who leads an association of more than 5,400 transgenders in Assam, has moved the office of the NRC co-ordinator here, seeking its assistance.

"I have requested the NRC co-ordinator Prateek Hajela to look into the matter as I have received calls from many who could not apply for NRC. Hajela told me that he will discuss the matter with us in the second week of January," Baruah said.

Baruah filed a PIL in Gauhati high court last year for a state policy for the welfare of the transgenders.


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