Mumbai: Beaten for not being man enough, 2 'men' move in with 'hijras'

Barely a week after Mumbai celebrated LGBT rights with a grand Pride march, two young men forced to move in with Malwani’s hijra community after being humiliated and beaten by family and friends

Angel (white) and Navya (brown tee) with Nani and ‘family’ in Malwani. PIC/ Sayed Sameer Abedi
Angel (white) and Navya (brown tee) with Nani and ‘family’ in Malwani. Pic/ Sayed Sameer Abedi

Navnath Sawant and Ajay Pujari, both 20, identify as transgender. From the time they were in school, they knew they identified as women. Ridiculed by classmates and humiliated by their families, they have journeyed from being Ajay and Navnath to Angel and Navya, with the hijras of Malwani becoming their new family.

Angel (Ajay) is roughed up by his father outside the police station
Angel (Ajay) is roughed up by his father outside the police station

The Vasai residents have had to move in with Malwani’s hijra community headed by the leader of the pack, Roshni Chandni Shaikh, lovingly called Nani. “I lived with my family in Vasai. I have two sisters and an elder brother. As far back as Class 10, Angel and I knew we were more comfortable being girls. We liked wearing sarees and salwar kameezes. Our families were bitterly opposed to the idea, leaving us no choice but to move in with the transgender community in Malwani,” says Navya.

Ajay with Nani at the police station. Pic /Hanif Patel
Ajay with Nani at the police station. Pic /Hanif Patel

First complaint
After Navya went missing in November 2016, a family member lodged a missing person’s complaint at Manikpur police station, and the police tracked him down to Malwani. Back with the family, Navya was sent to an ashram for counselling. Distraught, he tried to end his life by consuming phenyl but was saved in time. Having survived the nightmare, he is now clear that he will make his life on his own terms. Angel accompanied Navya to live with their new ‘family’. Angel says his parents disapproved of Navya, too.

Angel is roughed up by his father

Determined to have him back into their fold, Navya’s family filed a second complaint. This time, Nani decided to tackle it before the police arrived at their door. She accompanied the two to Manikpur Police station where the police called in their families.

Future calling
“I suggested that the issue be settled one way or another. Once again, they tried convincing the two to not go down this road. Angel’s father thrashed him. That’s when I intervened and asked the police to do the needful,” Nani told mid-day.

Prakash Patil, police inspector at Manikpur police station, said, “They are adults, and they have chosen to live with Nani. We asked them to give it in writing, which they did.”

Section 377

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code dating back to 1860, criminalises sexual activities “against the order of nature”, arguably including homosexual sexual activities.

On 6 February 2016, the final hearing of the curative petition submitted by the Naz Foundation and others came for hearing in the Supreme Court. 

The three-member bench headed by then the Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said that all the 8 curative petitions submitted will be reviewed afresh by a five-member constitutional bench.

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