Hooligans harass transwoman into shutting biriyani business, one held after Minister KK Shailaja intervenes
According to Sajana, trouble began a few weeks back when a group of men who used to sell dried fish set shop right in front of their vehicle from which they had been doing their biriyani business.
KOCHI: At a time when people are finding ways to earn a livelihood, a successful food business started by a group of transgenders came to a grinding halt when some people began harassing them. Unable to bear the harassment and the apathy of the police, Sajana Shaji, who runs the Sajana's Special Biriyani, took to the Facebook to air her grievances.
"It has been three months since we started our food business and we have been doing good," Sajana said. According to her, the business was being run by five persons. "There are four transwomen and one trans man in our team," she said.
According to Sajana, trouble began a few weeks back when a group of men who used to sell dried fish set shop right in front of their vehicle from which they had been doing their biriyani business. "They hurl insults and taunt us," she said. According to Sajana, those people even began spreading rumours that their biriyani was of substandard quality.
"All this has hit our business and we were unable to sell the packets. We used to sell the entire 200 packets of biriyani plus 20 meals every day. However, since the past few weeks, we are left holding 150 packets of biriyani," said Sajana whose team sells biriyani at Irumbanam and also Karingachira, besides three other places.
"What should we do? When we seek help from people, they tell us why don't you get a job or earn a living in a respectful manner. However, when we actually do something to earn a living, these very people start working against us. So, can you please tell me what should we do? Where should we go?" she said.
Sajana said, "It is as if we were operating illegally. We had all the necessary certifications like the one from the Food and Safety department for our business." According to her, even law enforcement agencies don't take them seriously.
"When I went to the police station to file a complaint, the cops there weren't helpful. They mocked me. They wanted to know whether I really did sell biriyanis. The police have not lifted even the small finger to take action against the hooligans," she said. The drop in business has seriously affected Sajana and her team.
"Our business supported our families. At present, we don't have even the necessary funds to buy the raw materials needed to make biriyani. If nothing is done, we will be forced to go back to the streets," she said. Meanwhile, the FB video posted by Sajana was shared by actor Fahadh Faasil and gained a lot of views. Knowing about their plight, actor Jayasurya contacted Sajana and promised her financial aid to set up a hotel.
One held after minister intervenes
Officials of the Social Justice Department department said acting on Sajana Shaji's complaint, the Tripunithura police arrested a person. "When she came to know about Sajana's complaint, Social Justice Minister KK Shailaja intervened and directed the officials to take immediate action," said an official.
Spoke to Sajana, transgender person who was attacked by anti-social elements yesterday. Sajana earns her living by selling biryani by the roadside in Ernakulam. Assured that necessary assistance and security will be provided. pic.twitter.com/4sydNCqRda— Shailaja Teacher (@shailajateacher) October 13, 2020
District social justice officer John Joshi K J said Sajana will be provided financial assistance through the State Women's Development Corporation of the Social Justice Department to set up a hotel.
Initiate action against cops: Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress came out strongly against police inaction. DCC general secretary Raju P Nair and block president C Vinod sought stern action against the police for failing to register the complaint submitted by Sajana Shaji and her friends.
According to Raju, the other day after coming to know about the altercation that ensued between Sajana and her team with the hooligans, Youth Congress members defused the situation and helped them sell all their biriyani packets.