Beed cop Lalita Salve: I was not happy with nature, for putting me between two genders
Lalita Salve, who on Thursday moved the high court seeking nod for sex change, thanks Devendra Fadnavis, who a day before had told mid-day that the state DGP will pass her application
The unachievable suddenly appears to be within reach for Beed constable Lalita Salve, courtesy CM Devendra Fadnavis' intervention and her writ petition in the Bombay High Court filed on Thursday, which have brought her closer to her goal of undergoing the sex reassignment surgery. In an interview with mid-day, she said, "I thank CM Devendra Fadnavis for thinking about me and my job." Salve added that there was still a long way to go. "Once my medication is complete, I will hit the gym and start working on my body. I want to have a good physique with good muscles, so that I can continue and better my work, assuring safety to women," she said. It's not for nothing locals in Beed call her 'mahila chedchad virodhi pathakachi madam'.
Lalita Salve at the Bombay High Court on Thursday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Mum's the word
Salve also spoke out on the issue as a whole, about more people like her. "They want to change their identity but hide their feelings, from friends and family. It's not right... They should feel free to share their feelings in society," she said. "I joined the force for my country, to serve the society I live in. Even if I get my sex changed, that won't affect my thoughts and feelings towards my country and the public. People in my village have always been supportive towards me; I want to do something for them too. Once I am done with the surgery, I will do my best for my village, and for Beed." Narrating her ordeal over the last few years, Salve said, "I used to curse my luck; I was not happy with nature, for putting me between two genders, neither here nor there." "Four years ago, I was happy, I felt normal. But shortly after, I started noticing changes in my body… something felt out of place, I started feeling trapped. I couldn't sleep or work properly. Finally, I sought out my mother," she explained.
"I was worried about her reaction, but I went ahead. She didn't utter a single negative or critical word, just calmly told me to tell my father. And so we did, both of us together."
Lalita Salve at the Bombay High Court yesterday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Out of place
Her father, a farmer, too surprised her by taking the news calmly and without criticism. He took his brother-in-law Arjun Ujagare into confidence, and the latter took Salve to a hospital in Beed, where doctors referred them to a private hospital in Mumbai. But the exorbitant cost of the surgery finally made them seek out a government hospital — JJ. "I used to be very fit earlier, easily completing the 100-m and 200-m runs; in fact, I was the best runner in Beed range... I used to complete 100-m run in 14 seconds and 200-m one in less than 30 seconds. I used to participate in long jump too. But after my body started changing, the athletics slowly stopped; I couldn't retain my agility and speed," said Salve, adding that something as basic as going to a ladies washroom also started stressing her out, as she felt uncomfortable and out of place there. "I started avoiding going to a public washroom and even at office."
Sattyabhama Bhujan Saundarmal, 33, and Deepali Patil, 30, of the Nirdhar Samajik Sevabhavi Sanstha have started a signature campaign, seeking gender justice for Salve. Pics/Sameer Markande
A ray of hope
"When I received the letter from the DG office, rejecting my plea, the tears just started flowing; I couldn't stop crying. I had been praying to god to show me the way, to help me in achieving my goal as well as keeping my job as my family needed me," she recounted. After news of her application to the DGP spread, everyone started quizzing her about it, asking what was happening to her and when the surgery was; so much so that she switched off her phone and went off the grid. She even stopped talking to her friends and colleagues, limiting her interaction to her advocate, uncle and parents, and locking herself up in her room for long hours.
"And then I read mid-day's report, about the CM saying he had had a word with the DGP and asked him to make an exception for me… that was my first ray of hope," she said. Ujagare said, "We have heard that the government is supportive, but as of now, we haven't received anything official from them. Hence, we moved court."
Madhukar Salve, father
'We thank CM sir for supporting my daughter to fulfil her dream… We don't understand English, but a relative of ours told us about the report in mid-day, giving the CM's version, which is positive. We told this to everyone in the village, and they are all so happy. I am now the proud father of three boys'
Kesarbai Salve, mother
'She first came to me and shared her problem. I was, of course, shocked at first; I couldn't think of any solution. But then I thought over it and we decided to discuss it with her father. Something like this is new for our family… but seeing the support and positive response we've been getting, we feel hopeful and happy. Lalita defeated her problem and came out on top of it; she will make a great police officer in the future'
Rajesh Ghode, Manavi Haq Abhiyan
'It was a very bold decision on her part, but I am happy that villagers, and even politicians, are supporting her. We will organise a rally to collect funds for her treatment'
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