Riya Das, a member of the transgender community in Tripura, used to earn anything between Rs 500 and 800 on a daily basis prior to the national lockdown Credit: EastMojo image

Agartala: With the second phase of national lockdown over COVID-19 underway, Riya Das, a 32-year-old transgender person from Guwala Basti area in West Tripura district, fears for the worst.

Speaking with EastMojo, Das said marriages and celebrations are not happening and begging is no longer allowed since the announcement of national lockdown from March 24. “We are a group of 15 members from the transgender community living in Guwala Basti for many years. Following the lockdown, we have had no income. We have not received any financial support from the government or civil societies too,” Das said.

Sharing her plight, Das said that prior to the announcement of lockdown in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, she could earn anything between Rs 500 and 800 on a daily basis. “We attend marriages, births and other celebrations that take place across the state. Out of love and in return for our blessings and performances, people give us some cash which is enough to run our livelihood,” Das said.

She also said that due to the lockdown there is no marriage or celebration and therefore the income has become zero for all the members of the group.

According to Das, in Tripura, there are more than 12 transgender groups working across the state in different areas having the eldest persons as their group leader (gurus).

Batashi Pal, a transgender person, received support from her neighbours in terms of green vegetables on Friday

Another transgender person, Batashi Pal from a different group, said that they are facing problems since whatever money they had earned is over and they are now living with help from locals and neighbours “We received ration from the government; however that is not enough to run the house as we have no source of income. We have not received any monetary support from the authorities either,” Pal said.

She also said that even in the past several meetings and appointments were taken with the MPs and MLAs but no concrete solution came till date.

A number of transgender persons living in the state do not possess ration cards or any government documents to take rations from fair price shops.

However, on Thursday, law minister Ratan Lal Nath said that the government would take a decision on how to provide support to the transgender community. He said that the matter had come to their notice and they will soon take a decision so that they receive monetary support from the government. Most of them earn their livelihood by visiting and collecting money from houses and shops.

“Due to pandemic and lockdown, they are facing troubles. However, the government might take some time to find out the actual number of transgender persons present across the state,” Nath said.

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