By Ila Ananya
The Karnataka government has, in an unexplained move that really just seems to be intimidation and harassment, has announced that they’re going to set up ‘vigilance squads’ to arrest transwomen begging on roads in Bangalore. Of course they add that they’re also going to be ‘rehabilitating’ the transwomen, but nobody in the government has thought it important to explain or think through what rehabilitation means.
The announcement came on Monday, 27th March, when Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya—the same man who unbelievably also called for the legalisation of manual scavenging earlier this month—said that the government was asking people to alert the Central Relief Committee (CRC) helpline if they come across any transperson begging. These vigilance squads would then come to the spot, arrest, and ‘rehabilitate’ them.
But right now it seems like the government is only arresting transpeople and letting them off after a “stern warning”, with no proposal yet to set up rehabilitation centres. Anjaneya had made this clear on Monday when the government’s proposal first came to light.
Apparently this is following complaints from motorists about transpeople begging. According to various reports, these repeated complaints resulted in around 132 transpeople being arrested by the CRC vigilance squads. Bangalore Mirror has quoted CRC officials as saying things like “While a few walk away with whatever money is offered to them, a few others refuse to budge without getting a minimum of Rs 10 from the motorists.” They also say that the problem arises because while begging is prohibited under the Karnataka Prohibition of Beggary Act 1975, the state can’t start action against transpeople begging near signals because the act doesn’t apply to them.
There’s obviously no plan the government has in place to rehabilitate transwomen at the moment, so how is all this being implemented in the name of rehabilitation and social welfare? What is the government thinking?