KARACHI: In a heinous incident, unidentified men driving a sport utility vehicle (SUV) shot and killed a transgender person, Chanda, on Shahbaz Commercial in Phase VI, Defence Housing Authority.
The incident took place Tuesday night when at least four transgender persons were roaming at Shahbaz Commercial as per their routine.
It has been reported that there is a group of men in Karachi often seen at Zamzama, Sehar Commercial, Badar Commercial and Bukhari Commercial, travelling in a white Vigo or a white Corolla. For their midnight entertainment, the group tries to find transgender people on the streets and throws eggs at them.
According to Chanda’s transfellows, after midnight around 12:30am, the gang threw eggs at them at Shahbaz Commercial. The transgenders, in a natural response, abused back, which prompted one of the gang members to open fire on them.
“We often used to stay there for begging but suddenly the men in a white Vigo started throwing eggs on us. Nearly half a dozen men were in the Vigo. They were armed. We retaliated and abused them. One of them pulled out a gun and warned to kill all of us. Chanda was not scared and continued to exchange abusive words with them,” narrated the victim’s transfellow, Vicky. “The man shot her on the head and escaped.”
The victim’s fellows were in a state of fear following the incident. They called the police and an ambulance to shift Chanda to a hospital.
“Before we could shift her to the hospital, she had expired,” explained another fellow transgender, Sajjad.
“This was a horrifying incident. We are already jobless people and are compelled to beg. Now, what should we do and how can we survive in such a society?” Sajjad questioned.
The deceased transgender was 25 years old. She was shot once on her head. Her body was shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where she was pronounced dead.
Chanda belonged to a middle class family residing in Korangi No 2 ½. However, she was not living with her family for the last few years.
“We received a phone call from the police midnight. The police officer informed us that one of our family members has been shot dead. She had been away from home for the past eight to ten years. We have held her funeral. We don’t want to discuss this matter further,” said Chanda’s father, Anwar Masih, while talking to The Express Tribune.
The police have yet to ascertain the actual motive behind the killing and an investigation to find the culprits is under way.
“We believe that the fellow transgenders are trying to hide facts,” said Darakshan SHO Aurangzeb Khattab. “The issue was not only the egg throwing but there was something more which they are hiding,” said the officer, adding that it seems that all the transgenders who were present at the crime scene knew the culprits as they might have met them earlier.
“We are now trying to obtain the closed-circuit television camera footage and we are also recording the witnesses’ accounts,” SHO Khattab explained.
The officer further said that an empty shell of the pistol used in the firing has been sent to the forensic division, adding that the police were also trying to get the registration number of the SUV in order to trace the killers.
The police have registered an FIR No 440/17 under Section 302 against unidentified persons on a complaint of Masih.
According to Salman Khan, a young human rights activist working with TransReach Pakistan, the transgender community is in shock again after the murder of Chanda which ironically happened in a posh locality of the biggest city of the country and not in some remote area.
“Where were the law enforcement agencies when this happened? Where are they now? Have they been able to arrest the culprits? No,” Khan said angrily. “It is not an isolated incident but the continuation of the victimisation of the transgender community across the country.”
He said that apart from harassment on the streets, the transgender community faces severe hurdles while engaging in routine life activities such as renting an apartment and looking for a job.
“Most landlords refuse to rent their apartment or house to transgenders and on the other hand, we face harassment at the hands of law enforcement agencies.”
Bindiya Rana, rights activist and president of Gender Interactive Alliance, said that the whole community was scared and demanding that the authorities take action against the culprits involved in the murder and ensure the writ of the law so that no one else could face a similar fate.