Wings Travels Management Ltd, who have been training Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) cab drivers in Mumbai, have plans to kickstart a similar project in Pune too.
After a recent meeting with LGBT members in Pune, the company came to know that LGBTs in Pune don’t have a driving licence, as there is no column of ‘others’ in the gender section. When this issue was conveyed by the reporter, and also by the travel management to the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO), within two hours the online portal was corrected and the gender column other was included.
A Pune-based LGBT member Payal alias Rajendra Khalade (26), a resident of Shivdharshan society in Sahakar Nagar, speaking on the issue, said, “We too are Indian and we also have equal rights. The Supreme Court has given us certain guidelines, but still the government is sleeping. No budget or nothing for us. We too want to see ‘ache din’. From two years, I am struggling with RTO Pune to get my driving license for my two-wheeler, but there is no gender option for us. I had approached the RTO agent too, but that hasn’t helped.”
Khalade added, “All documents that I have mentions about the other gender, but RTO Pune did not have it. My agent suggested I opt for male or female, but I thought its illegal as my Aadhar card and voting card has ‘transgender’ written on it. Many times, cops catch us for driving without licence, but when we inform them about our problem, they say that they too cannot help us.”
She added, “We do not want to beg from people. We too want to take up studies and pick up jobs like others. Thus, we welcome the Wings radio cabs as we are tied of begging for money from people by clapping. On Thursday, we had a meeting with Wings and they have assured us of training. When we pointed out about the gender column, they assured us help in that too.”
Manasi Manikrao Thorat (25) holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts from Savitribai Phule Pune University and also completed a Diploma in Education. She recalls, “Despite finishing with first class in education, I am jobless. I wanted to be a teacher, but various schools in Pune denied giving me a job on security issues. They would also crack rude jokes like one that the children will become like me, or that I will molest the children. Later, I took tuitions, but that too did not last long. I also tried my hand at making papad and pickle, but no one took stuff from us. Instead, they used to sexually abuse us.”
She added, “I too want to have a dignified job, but society’s acceptance is not too high. I was even ready to drive auto or cab, but the gender issue was again a hindrance. I have no other option, but to beg or collect money from street vendors, as I had to take care of my mother’s medical expenses, who is suffering from heart issues. Daily, I earn Rs 300 to Rs 350, but in rainy season and summer, things are worst. Why can’t government give us a job quota as we well?”
Ashok Bhandula, Chief Operative Officer at Wings Travel said, “After the successful experiment in Mumbai, we plan to commence the project on similar lines in Pune. My team and operation members had a meeting with the LGBT community and they came across these facts. We initially approached RTO Mumbai and later Pune. They assured us help, and the changes have been done.”
He added, “The other issue we are facing is that, according to RTO norms, a Transport Driver (TR) licence requires a person to have 18 months experience. We are negotiating with RTO Mumbai on this note too.”
When contacted, Pune Regional Transport Officer Jitendra Patil said, “I was not aware about such things (transgender issues), as they never came up before me. I will direct all my officers to accept their forms personally. In the meantime, our licence forms are online. We will approach the National Informative Centre (NIC) to make required changes.”
The reported called Patil back after some time, and was informed that the changes had been implemented online.