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Odisha to recruit transgender community members in police

A huge thumbs up by Odisha's transgender community members for allowing them to be recruited in police force (Pic: Courtesy zeenews.india.com)

The Naveen Patnaik Government in Odisha has taken a novel initiative — recruiting members of the transgender community in the police.

On June 12, the Odisha police invited people from the transgender community to apply for police vacancies. The Odisha Police Recruitment Board, which fills up the gaps in the police, invited virtual applications from men, women and transgender people. These applications are being invited for the recruitment to the posts of constables and sub-inspectors.

Talking to the news agency PTI, the Director-General of Police in the State, Abhay Kumar said: "I invite qualified women and men to join the Odisha Police as constables (communication) and SIs to serve the people of the State. Also, for the first time, people belonging to the transgender category can also apply for both the posts.”

Though the law-enforcing agency has opened its doors to the transgender people, it has stated that those who are specially abled are not eligible to apply.

The notification for inviting application specifies: "Transgender candidates are eligible to apply, PWD (Persons with Disabilities) are not eligible to apply.”

In all the Odisha Police has issued a requirement for 477 sub-inspectors and 244 constables. While the sub-inspectors will be recruited to the main police cadre, the constable (communications) will be added to the technical cadre.

Analysts say that while the move to include transgender members in the police force is a welcome step, much more needs to be done to create an enabling environment.

Talking to India Narrative, Rajesh Srinivas, the Executive Director of Sangama, an LGBT rights group based in Bengaluru, commended the step taken by the Odisha Government. “In terms of recruitment of transgender community members in the force, it is a welcome step as it will instil a sense of confidence among them. However, on a macro level, much more needs to be done. There is a need to sensitise the police force as a whole on acceptance of transgender people as part of the society. This is essential, to make them more empathic to the needs of the community and also ensure that an inclusive and enabling environment is created in the police force, to allow and assist the newly recruited trans members to work efficiently.”

Sangama established in 1999, works extensively with both sex workers and LGBT persons in Karnataka and Kerala.

Nevertheless, whole heartedly hailing this decision of the State, were the transgender groups like Third Gender Mahasangh and the Odisha Kinner.

As reported in PTI, the Founder-President of the Mahasangh, Pratap Kumar Sahu said: "“For the first time, a public advertisement has been issued seeking application from transgender people in government jobs in the state. Including the transgender people in the force will not only boost the confidence of the community, but also change the society’s perception towards transgender people.”

Sahu also drew attention to the fact that States like Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have already set the precedent by recruiting transgender people in their police forces.

The transgender associations thanked the Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik for their inclusion in the force and the Mahasangh earnestly requested him to allow some relaxation in physical fitness evaluations for the transgender candidates. They suggested that several of the applicants may not be in a position to compete with men and women in certain physical tasks such as running.

The State Government had in the past also aired its intention to recruit transgender community members for the post of jail warders.

This is yet to be implemented.

Vaccination for transgender community

While bringing about structural changes in the recruit process for the transgender community, the Odisha Government is also taking care of their well-being and healthcare during the second waveof Covid-19 pandemic.

Recently, a group of the community was vaccinated after a special vaccination drive was launched by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) at Kalyan Mandap in the city.

In a conversation to ANI, trans- person, Monti said: "I am very happy and thankful of BMC for providing the first jab of Covaxin in Bhubaneswar. I had tried twice to book a slot but failed to register with the Cowin app. Today, I and my friends, who have no Aadhar Card or other identity cards for registration also get vaccinated here."

Ragni Das, another member of the community, echoed the same sentiments. "We are thankful to BMC for providing the COVID-19 vaccine to us and treating us like a normal human being."

Srinivas told the India Narrative, that the vaccination drive in Bhuaneswar capital is highly appreciable. “Sangama too had undertaken a drive in Karnataka and we got 250 trans people vaccinated. Other States too should do this, to ensure that no one is left behind and thus make the country Covid free. In fact, last month the Central Government had written to all the States and Union Territories regarding vaccination of the transgender community. They were told to spread awareness on vaccination in the community, ensure that the existing Covid and vaccination centres are transgender friendly; and open separate vaccination camp or mobile booths for their vaccination. Many States are doing this. We hope others too will do it.”

Discussing this campaign, Anshuman Rath the Zonal Deputy Commissioner-South East, Bhubaneswar said even those transgender community members who were not having an identity card have been also administrated the first jab.

"BMC has launched a special vaccination drive for the transgender community at Kalyan Mandap in Bhubaneswar. As of today, there're around 500 transgenders in Bhubaneswar. A large number of trans members, who were not having an identity card like Aadhar Card or other required documents have also been administered the first jab against COVID-19," said Rath.

Praising the community Rath said they had played an important role during the pandemic to serve society. They also have collected parking tax on-road and live a dignified life.