Silchar: Nobody knows the exact number of kinnars living in Barak Valley. A Silchar based NGO ‘Ashwas’ has taken the maiden initiative to invite them at a special programme organised at Goldighee mall here on Thursday in order to interact with them and know their problems. General secretary of Ashwas Arundhati Gupta said that to their appeal, only eight of their tribe have turned out. “This is just the beginning. We hope to have all in our next call,” a confident Gupta pointed out. Kinnars or persons of third gender, who are also known as hijra, are usually seen in trains, moving from one compartment to another, for help from the passengers. Some help, some sniff, many disdain. Yet they move on. After all, they have to live and survive.
Rumika Chakraborty, now 58, has only been through sad and bitter experiences ever since she was outcast by her family members, relatives and neighbours at the age of 15. Like any girl born in a middle class family of Badarpur railway town, she has been good at her studies. She was in class X when she could realise some physical change in her body. “It was all hell for me when my family members pushed me out and dropped me in the company of kinnars around,” Rumika recalled as her voice choked and tears rolled down.
In fact, Rumika has been the face and voice of the other kinnars present at the function. She has been profiling before the audience not only her own tale of pangs and sorrow, the mental and physical trauma, but also of all those of her tribe. She said, “We want to live with honour and dignity. How painful it is to be deprived of the affections of parents and the compassion of society. We can’t be a part of the benefits of the social schemes of the Centre and the State. How long should we be left to suffer. Are we such a cursed lot?” They worship their kinnar god for mental peace and strength to face the ordeal of everyday life.
Arundhati Gupta said that their NGO which has been working with philanthropic approach for the last five years will now fight for the cause of the kinnars, espouse their rightful demands and take up cudgel for their fulfilment. Their demands for free train fare, education, benefits of social schemes and fruitful employment will be taken up. It is quite heartening that Narendra Modi Government has reserved 2% jobs for kinnars in central government establishments. But, Purnima, Rani and Juli ask, have can we have the education to get jobs?
Keeping this in mind, Arundhati said,“We will try to give them free education every Sunday by holding classes and create avenues for their employment to make them self-reliant. They will be given training in weaving and embroidery to begin with.” There is however a redeeming side to be shared by social activist Jhunu Roy. The kinnars are sheltered in the women home of social welfare department at Badarpur. Kinnars have expressed their gratitude to Arundhati for giving them the platform to speak out and also to advisor of Ashwas Swarnali Chowdhury for gifting them sarees.