CHENNAI: An LGBTQ activist and a transman were allegedly harassed by the Madurai police and dragged to different police stations in Chennai on Tuesday for protecting a lesbian couple. The ordeal ended after senior police officers learnt about the incident and ordered for the activist to be released.
The girls, aged above 20, reached Chennai about a week ago, allegedly after their parents opposed their relationship. They had contacted Shiva Kumar, a city-based LGBTQ activist who runs an NGO called Nirangal, seeking shelter. While Shiva Kumar found a shelter for them in Perambur, one of the girls’ parents lodged a complaint with the Madurai police, saying the girl had been kidnapped. The police then came to Chennai in plain clothes with the man who lodged the complaint.
“Knowing that the girls were in touch with Shiva Kumar, the police picked up his colleague, Selvam, a transman, from his office in Thiruvanmiyur and beat him up, forcing him to reveal Shiva Kumar’s whereabouts,” said Magdalene Jayarathnam, a counsellor who also works with LGBTQ-related issues. While Shiva Kumar was in a counselling session with Magdalene, two people in civil clothes, on the pretext of seeking help from the former, dragged him out of the office and snatched his phone.
Only after Magdalene followed them to the vehicle did she learn that they were policemen from Madurai. After Magdalene questioned them several times about why they didn’t inform the local police, Selvam and Shiva Kumar were taken to the Nungambakkam station. When Express contacted Shiva Kumar, he didn’t pick up his phone the first few times, and later explained that he was in trauma and was scared.
The police allegedly threatened to book him for human trafficking. Later, they were taken to the Thousand Lights police station, where, after allegedly receiving threats and abuses, Shiva Kumar revealed where the girls were. “Immediately, the duo were taken to the ICF police station since the location is under its jurisdiction, and the girls were brought there and their phones too were confiscated,” said Magdalene.
While the police were threatening one of the girls, the other girl gave Magdalene the contact number of a lawyer who had filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court. Later, Magdalene contacted the advocate, Sudha Ramalingam, who informed city Police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal. After senior police officers intervened, the activist and his colleague Selvam were let off.
Meanwhile, lawyers visited the station and informed the police that the girls were adults unwilling to stay with their parents. The police released the girls based on the petition in the High Court. Shiva Kumar was let off around 11 pm on Tuesday. He said, “Activists like us are willing to work with the police but most junior-level personnel are constantly harassing us based on the sexual orientation of the people we fight for.”