September 8th, 2020

By Amir Taqvi


PAKPATTAN

“It is very hard being a transgender in this country,” says a transgender who lives in the Phoolnagar area. “People taunt us wherever we go.”

While Khwajasirahs are part of society much like everyone else, the respect that they deserve is only rarely given to them. Bigotry prevalent in society has pushed them back and has forced to make them to live dangerous lives.

Thirty-year-old transwoman Amanullah aka Billu Pathani, a resident of Pakpattan, used to earn an honest living by working at a private factory in Saraye Cheena near Phoolnagar. But one night, between the 28th and 29th of August she was gruesomely attacked by “unknown assailants”. The culprits hit Amanullah on the head with a heavy object and then choked her to death.

His family is shocked.

“My brother was ruthlessly slaughtered. His dead body was so disfigured that I could not even bear to look at it. It was an act of pure barbarianism,” says Saifullah her brother.

As soon as the police were informed personnel from the Saddar Phoolnagar police station arrived at the scene and launched an investigation. The police took Amanullah’s body into custody and sent it to the Tehsil Headquarter Hospital (THQ), Pattoki, for post mortem and registered an FIR of the incident with Amanullah’s elder brother Saifullah as the primary complainant.

The police claim that they are employing modern technology in their search for the culprits and that they will be able to bring the criminals to justice very soon.

Saifullah, says that he is satisfied with the action taken by the police and is hopeful that they will keep cooperating with the family and bring his brother’s murderers to justice.

“I go to the police station almost every day. And I have no complaints about the behavior of the police for now. They seem serious about solving this murder. Both the investigation officer, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, and the Station House Officer (SHO), Aslam Bhatti, are taking a special interest in this case, for which I am thankful,” says Saifullah.

Other transgenders who used to work with Amanullah vouch for his character and remember him as an extremely hardworking individual.

“I had been working with Amanullah for almost a year and a half now and I can say without an ounce of doubt that she was a brilliant human being. I hope she gets justice,” says a colleague.

“She kept to herself and focused on her work. She did not go snooping around in other people’s businesses,” says another fellow worker.

Akram alias Madam Bholi, President of the Khushaali Welfare Society (KWS), an organization that works for the welfare of transgenders, complains about the constant harassment Khwajasirahs have to face in society.

For this reason, organizations like KWS are extremely essential, she claims. Madam Bholi condemns the murder of Amanullah and demands that the police take swift action against the culprits.

“Transgenders do not have access to a respectful means of income. Many of us are forced to dance at parties just to feed ourselves. We are subjected to indignation every day. This is why I decided to establish this society for the welfare of my community,” she says.

Amanullah loved her siblings very much and was working very hard to provide for them. In addition to being a hard worker, she was also a very skilled soccer player.

“He used to be a member of the soccer team of our village Chak 27SP, Pakpattan,” says Saifullah who still refers to Amanullah as a male. “He was such an amazing player that teams from far off villages used to invite him to goal keep for them,” explains Saifullah.

Meanwhile, Amanullah’s sister has divorced her husband and is currently residing with her family. Amanullah had a very deep affection for his sister. A day before his murder Amanullah had called her sister and told her that she would work hard to collect enough money to buy a house so that her sister could finally live with her children in a house she can call her own.

Now Amanullah’s murder has pushed her sister over the brink. She is no longer mentally stable says the family. Even Aman’s father has been hit hard by the news of his son’s murder as well and has been begging officials for justice ever since.

“After Allah, he was the only one I had in this entire world. I can’t understand why he was snatched away from us”, says Amanullah’s sister with tears rolling down her eyes.

“They took my son away from me. All I need now is justice, nothing else,” explains Amanullah’s father.

Incidents of violence against trans genders have seen a steep rise throughout Punjab while law enforcement agencies seem unwilling or unprepared to curb this rising tide of violence against members of the community