Tag: Desis LGBT

Trikone Members Attacked By Modi Supporters

4Oct

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Although this is not the main video, here’s a glimpse of right wing zealots who support Modi verbally attacking, harassing and pushing the members of Trikone.

The zealots took signs from Trikone members and ripped them up and some Modi supporters even got physical. Here’s a detailed account from Trikone’s co-chair Ali.

Section 377 was brought back into the law books December 2013, Modi has yet to acknowledge 377 or make any promises to the South Asian LGBTQ community that he will get the code off the law books for good.

These types of horrendous actions remind us all that homophobia and ignorance is still very much alive, even in the Bay Area.

Do you know these supporters who kept harassing the Trikone members?

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Sandip Roy interviewed the members of Trikone. Listen here.

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case

15Mar

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Picture 47

Sappho one of the great Greek lyricist and poets

From Sappho (Support Group for Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women) this was reported in the Telegraph (Eastern Indian English newspaper) the two women were in a lesbian relationship, sadly they both committed, because they felt this was the only way they could be together. Sappho went to their town to learn more about the two young women and their families.

Swapna-Sucheta Suicide Case
Nandigram, Sonachura, 20th February.2011
A Report by the Fact Finding Team of Sappho for Equality

The incident was reported in the Telegraph, a leading English daily of
eastern India on 22nd February 2011, along with smaller insertions on
the same day in Times of India, Kolkata, Ganashakti (Bengali daily
from Kolkata), Mumbai Mirror and Ahmedabad Mirror.

Two young girls from a village named Sonachura, under Nandigram police
station, in East Midnapur District, had committed suicide together by
consuming pesticide. They were neighbours, distant cousins; the elder
used to give tuition to the younger and were in a lesbian
relationship. The younger was married off some months ago after the
villagers became suspicious about their relationship.

Apart from the above mentioned basic facts media reports were
contradictory about the names of the girls, their ages, and other
details related to this incident. One of the news papers with
expressed political allegiance went to the extent of calling it a
murder (it should be remembered that Nandigram and Sonachura have been
in the news for State Government’s land acquisition policy and counter
movement, and is still in a situation of political unrest with state
elections knocking at the door).

We at Sappho for Equality decided that given the contradictory nature
of the media reports, and the political positioning of Nandigram with
a general pre-poll unrest prevailing in the state, we should carry out
a fact finding process on our own. It also is considered as a step
towards our advocacy and lobbying campaign with the state machinery,
the police to be precise.

As step one we formed an internal fact finding team of experienced
members. The team first met Ms. Damayanti Sen IPS, Joint Commissioner
of Police, Crime Branch, Kolkata, for back up police support for the
fact finding mission and also for involving her in the advocacy and
lobbying campaign. We got extremely positive response from her for the
immediate venture and the long term project. She gave us contacts of
very senior police personnel of the West Bengal Police, the Additional
director of Police, Law and Order, who in turn connected us with the
East Midnapore Police Superintendent, OC of Nandigram Police Station
and Sub Inspector of Tekhali, Sonachura Police Outpost. The last
referred person had actually handled this case and we got maximum
information from him through our fact finding process on 26th
February.

On 26th February our five-member team, ready with audio-visual
documenting    equipments, went to Sonachura for finding out real
facts and scopes for further intervention regarding the couple suicide
case of Swapna-Sucheta. We met and interviewed Swapna’s parents, one
of her coaching class students who used to study with Sucheta also,
Sucheta’s mother, one of their male neighbours, few neighbourhood
women, Sucheta’s husband Bikash Mondal, Panchayet Pradhan Kalikrishna
Pradhan (chief functionary of the rural local governance system) and
Sub Inspector Animesh Chakraborty of Tekhali Police Outpost and also
had a talk with Second Officer Sambhunath Das of Nandigram Police
Station. Copy of a note book with Swapna’s description of their
relationship and the final act along with the copy of case diary were
collected as testimony.

The incident and its background as found by the fact finding committee
is – Swapna, 21/22 has always been a quite and integrated person. She
is one of the rare girls who had passed Madhyamik (school leaving
examination) and instead of marriage opted for a career as a teacher.
Her parents already burdened with the debts accumulated after her two
elder sisters’ marriage decided not to press too hard. She had opened
a coaching centre at her home and was giving tuition to the
neighbourhood students and earning a modest amount of money. Sucheta,
17/18, a neighbourhood girl, a second/third cousin used to come to her
coaching centre and they had developed very deep and intimate
relationship. The villagers started suspecting about the nature of
their relationship to be homosexual and about year ago a huge ruckus
was created by some of the village elders and both the families were
threatened. Sucheta’s parents decided to marry their daughter off and
they
got hold of a young neighbourhood boy, Bikash, 20/21, who works as a
masonry help in Orissa, was once in a relationship with Sucheta before
she got involved with Swapna. Sucheta refused to marry but was forced
into it, a very common practice everywhere in India, and was married
off about six months ago. But the relationship continued and Bikash,
tried to commit suicide, unsuccessfully, after two months of his
marriage to Sucheta. On 20th February 2011, Sucheta had come to visit
her natal family and went missing along with Swapna. The families and
villagers looked for them the whole night and in the morning they were
found dead at a spot about 2 km from their home tied together by a
gamchha (handloom towel) embracing each other. Police report says that
they had committed suicide by consuming pesticide. A note book was
found at Swapna’s home where she has clearly described the nature of
their relationship and her decision of committing suicide as they
thought that to be the only way of staying together because the
society would not let be with each other. Her last request was to be
cremated together, which was not observed because none of the families
including Sucheta’s marital family were willing to accept the dead
bodies back from police morgue to give them an honourable funeral.

From interactions with both of the families, Sucheta’s husband, and
neighbourhood persons, the single striking fact, clear to all of us,
was that no one is actually sad for those two deceased human beings.
Swapna’s parents are bewildered because she was a major bread winner
for her family, Sucheta’s mother (we could not meet her father) was
too cautious to talk. Bikash was busy clearing his name, trying to
prove that all was well between them as a married couple. Never did he
gave any information regarding his failed suicide attempt.

The neighbourhood guy agreed that it is bad that the girls have
committed suicide, it is not right to marry someone off forcibly. When
asked that what would be his/their plan of action if something like
this happens again, he said they would involve women next time
something like this happens and try to make the girls understand the
immorality and impossibility of such a situation rather than forcing
them into marriage. The Panchayet Pradhan also was unhappy about the
deaths and subsequent turn of events when the families refused to
cremate the deadbodies. He said that he was willing to organize funds
needed for their last rites but the families were not ready to do so,
though they cited poverty as their reason, he felt that immorality of
the act had actually forced the families to disown the girls. He also
said that he believes homosexuality is wrong because some group
involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in that area had declared so.
Police
personnel in the area, the sub-inspector of Tekhali police outpost,
in particular, seemed to be quite sensitive about the issue. Police
was willing to help the families in obtaining the bodies from morgue
but as the Pradhan, the S I also commented upon the families’
reluctance in arranging funeral rites due to the dead as non
acceptance of their lesbian relationship.

At this juncture, Sappho for Equality has already designed a targeted
intervention programme for eradicating violence against LBT persons
with long and short term work plans keeping this incident and other
similar incidents in focus.

Short term work plans

awareness camp in the Nandigram/Sonachura area after Assembly election
leafleting and campaigning with university and college students
keeping this incident at the centre
collaborating with Maitree (a forum of women’s rights groups and
individual activists in West Bengal) to present this case in the 8th
march programme (It had already been taken place)
Creating a violence dossier with similar reported incidents as ready reckoner.
Raising the issue of violence against LBT persons in every possible
fora and sharing this report with all interested organizations and
individuals working on similar or allied issues.

Long term work plan

advocacy and lobbying with the State Administrative System
police sensitization programme

Sappho for Equality is an Activist Platform Working for the Rights of
Sexually Marginalized (Les/Bi/Trans) Women in Kolkata