Beed district's Majalgaon has found itself on the map in a matter of days, and the reason isn't completely simple or conventional — its constable Lalita Salve and her fight for securing a nod for a sex reassignment surgery while retaining her job
Majalgaon, a town in Beed district with a population of little over 4,000, as per the 2001 census, currently finds itself at the centre of a statewide discussion, as Salve, 29, has approached the Bombay High Court, requesting that she be allowed to continue in the police force following a gender re-assignment surgery
As a student, Lalita was very active since the time she wore her uniform. She has been felicitated by schools and colleges for teaching a lesson to street harassers who trouble girl students
Talking exclusively to mid-day, Salve narrated her ordeal. "I have been noticing severe hormonal changes in my body over the last five years. It came to a point where I could no longer keep quiet about it and had to open up to someone. So, I spoke to my mother first, and she asked me to see some doctors in my hometown. They then asked me to see a doctor in Mumbai," she said
Her uncle had brought her to Mumbai a few months ago, where she was referred to a surgeon in JJ hospital, who suggested her to undergo the surgery. After it had been confirmed that was the only option, she'd involved her family to help her to make a decision. "I had not told my father about it until recently
Lalita said, "When I opened up to him, to my delight, he took it very well. My only concern now is my job, as I am the only one in my family with a stable source of income; my parents work in farms of other people in my hometown and my two brothers do small jobs." While one of her brothers owns a mobile shop in their hometown, the other drives an autorickshaw.
Constable Lalita Salve, looking to undergo a sex reassignment surgery, had done her research before writing to her superiors for leave — she had consulted a gynaecologist, psychologist and a plastic surgeon from a South Mumbai hospital well-known for doing such supra major sex change surgeries.
Senior Maharashtra Police officers had rejected Salve's application a few days ago. Salve, 29, is currently posted at the Majalgaon city police station in Beed district. She had written to the top bosses for a month's leave to undergo the surgery and be referred to as a male constable post the procedure.
Lalita Salve, Who Had Sought Her Superiors' Nod For Gender Re-Assignment, Speaks About Why She Took The Decision And How Her Family Has Been Rallying Behind Her. She Says High Court Is Her Only Hope Now, As The Police Dept Has Scuttled Her Bid
Lalita Salve said even her family was worried about her job and hoped that she didn't lose it. Hence, they wanted her to inform the department first and seek permission of her superiors. But that didn't work out in her favour. "Now, the high court is my only hope. I have complete faith in the judiciary, I am certain I'll get justice," she said, adding that the force should have some measures in place for people like her.
A junior doctor, who was attached to the Grant medical college and privy to this case, said, "The lady was keen to undergo the sex reassignment surgery. We found that she had underdeveloped male genitalia."
Her uncle Arjun Ujagare said, "We come from an orthodox family, and sex reassignment surgery and all are out of the ordinary for people like us. We have never even thought about such things, leave alone talk about it. But, Lalita is just like a man, when she spoke her heart out to us, we had no option but to support her. We don't care about what the extended family and community speak about us, we just want to support her."
Lalita Salve, posted at Majalgaon in Beed district, had written to Superintendent of Police Shidhar Govindrajan and Director General of Police Satish Mathur, seeking a month's leave for the operation and to be referred to as a male constable after it
What posed a difficulty for the police administration was that Salve had been recruited in the female quota, physical parameters for which are different from those employed while recruiting the men
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened and asked the director general of police to make an exception in her case and retain her in service as a male constable after the procedure. Fadnavis told mid-day that he decided to make an exception because it was among "the rarest of rare" cases
Lalita now wants to be known as Lalit Kumar Salve
A month after undergoing medical tests at JJ hospital, Beed constable Lalita Salve is still waiting to hear from the doctors and the state police administration if she can go ahead with her sex-change operation. We decode her tale of struggle