January 11, 2024
By Kamran Ali
Despite the passage of three days, police have yet to trace the accused involved in opening fire and seriously injuring four khawaja sirah (transgenders) in Peshawar three days ago.
On January 8, unknown masked men arrived on a motorcycle and shot at a group of trans women at Iqbal Plaza, within the limits of the Faqirabad police station. As a result, Shakeel (alias Shakeela), Hashim, Sajjad (alias Huma), Asim (alias Bindiya) were wounded and later shifted to the hospital for immediate medical intervention.
According to Farzana, the President of the Transgender Association in Peshawar, all four have been discharged and are receiving treatment at home.
Red light zone
Hira is a khawaja sira who originally hails from Islamabad but is currently residing at Iqbal Plaza, a locality notorious for the number of transgender sex workers living in it. She says that around 300 members of her community live there and that they have been targeted in the recent past as well.
“At least 10 khawaja sirah have been assaulted so far,” she told Voicepk. “Before this incident, our guru was also fired at but no action was ever taken. Two days after that, two or three young men in masks arrived on a motorcycle and fired on four of our guru’s students. They were badly injured.”
Hira says that her community is unsure as to who was behind the attempted murder, but they are certain it was a targeted attack.
“Our only demand is that we be provided security,” she says. “We want surveillance cameras set up, and for the police to respond quickly when such incidents occur.” She emphasizes that not only did the police take two hours to arrive at the scene of the incident on January 8, but taunted those khawaja sirahs who had reached out to them for help.
As individuals, transgenders too have a right to safety and not to be chastised for the work they are forced into doing by none other than society itself.
“We do not solicit anyone or force them to work at the Plaza,” says Hira. ” Everyone here comes of their own free will.”
Hira laments that like the attempt on her guru’s life, this incident too will give no leads.
“We do not know who shot at us and why, and since there are no CCTV cameras here, the accused will never be identified,” she says sorrowfully.
Eight khawaja sirahs killed last year
Cases of violence against trans people, reported from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are at a worrying frequency. Many of them lead to fatalities. Peshawar’s khawaja sirah community believes that not only are attacks on the uptick, there is also a lack of will from the authorities to take concrete measures for their protection. Other than protection there is also a question of whether there is even room to talk about the rehabilitation of survivors.
“My guru Kalajy was shot in the legs, and she still cannot walk,” Hira told Voicepk.
According to the Transgender Association in Peshawar, eight khawaja sirahs were killed while dozens were injured across KP last year.
Trans community demands results
Meanwhile, the President of the Association, Farzana, emphasizes that although dozens of cases regarding violence against the trans community have been registered, not a single accused in any of these incidents has served any penalty.
“We have given the police three days. If they do not take any action within three days, we will make our own plans,” she declares.
Regarding police performance in the investigation of crimes against khawaja sirahs, SSP Operations Kashif Aftab Abbasi expresses regret over the January 8 incident, and asserts that it is being investigated from all angles.
“Our investigation team is working on this day and night, and we are hopeful that our efforts will bring the accused to justice,” he told Voicepk.