Last month, G. Vasudevan of Kerala boarded an EMU train from Tambaram to travel to a relative’s residence in Guindy.
Within minutes, he was surrounded and harassed by transgenders, asking for money. Out of fear and embarrassment, he was forced to fork out Rs. 10.
“Initially I refused to give the money, but they started abusing me. I gave them some coins, but they forced me to open the purse and took Rs. 10 from it,” said Vasudevan.
Many like Vasudevan face similar instances of harassment on trains — both express and EMU.
Every day, the Government Railway Police (GRP) control room receives an average of three calls from passengers complaining of harassment by transgenders. “The highest number of complaints comes from Potheri, near Tambaram, and surrounding areas,” said a GRP officer.
To curb the menace, additional director general of the GRP Sekar formed a special team headed by deputy superintendent Ponramu and comprising inspector S. Sekhar and other police personnel. The team has been monitoring EMU trains as well as platforms in Chennai Central and nearby stations.
During a raid conducted on Tuesday, they arrested Manimegalai (23), Rajeswari (27) and Barathi (25), all from Perambur, at platform number four at Chennai Central railway station. Thanisha alias Raja (25) and Sivaji alias Sathishraj (23), both from Tiruvallur district, were also arrested for harassing passengers on an EMU train between Villivakkam and Perambur.
The police said the transgenders were arrested and produced before the magistrate. They were later let off with a fine of Rs. 250 each.
Police personnel state that it is usually difficult to arrest transgenders due to the huge hue and cry they raise. They, however, express the hope that fines would serve as a deterrent. “They start abusing us. The jail authorities also take them in with much hesitation as they create problems inside the prison too,” said a police source.
The GRP arrested six transgenders last year on charges of harassing passengers. “The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and GRP held meetings with transgenders and requested them to stop the menace. But they continue harassing passengers. They say that begging is more lucrative as it fetches them at least Rs. 1,000 per day whereas they can earn only Rs. 300 per day if they work,” said an officer.
A senior official from the social welfare department said they were providing pension to transgenders.
“We have also provided TNHB accommodation for them in some parts of the State. We are taking steps to ensure that they don’t indulge in begging. But some of them continue to do so,” she said.