The coronavirus disease, or COVID-19 pandemic, has brought out the prejudices in society to a large extent. In an act that has caused serious concern, some posters have come in Hyderabad inciting violence against transgender persons.
A poster that reportedly came up on the walls of Ameerpet metro station said, “Warning: Do not allow Kojja, Hijras near the shops. If you talk to them or have sex with them, you will be infected with CoronaVirus. Beat & drive them away or call 100 immediately. Save people from Corona Virus Hijras.” (sic) A similar poster was spotted in the Raj Bhavan Road as well.
Transgender rights and civil rights activist Meera Sanghamitra took to Twitter urging the police and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials to take strict action against the the miscreants who indulged in the act. Sanghamitra said, "We appeal to @hydcitypolice @GHMCOnline @TelanganaCMO @TelanganaDGP @CPHydCity to take immediate, strict action against mischief mongers who are spreading misinformation, discrimination & inciting violence against transgender persons, based on unscientific claims and prejudice."
While the poster obviously triggered outrage, it is exposing the deep rooted prejudices against the community, said activists.
#Transphobic Posters at Ameerpet Metro Station reads:— Meera Sanghamitra (@meeracomposes) March 29, 2020
“Warning: Do not allow Kojja, Hijras near the shops. If you talk to them or have sex with them, you will be infected with #CoronaVirus. Beat & drive them away or call 100 immediately. Save people from Corona Virus Hijras". pic.twitter.com/21HP5YBDSp
Meera said that police should track the hatemongers using CCTV footage in the locality.
When TNM reached out to Station House Officer (SHO) S Murali Krishna on the allegations of deliberate incitement of violence against the trans community, he said, “The matter has come to our notice, we have removed the posters immediately. A probe against the miscreants is underway. Strict action will be taken."
As per the Indian Penal Code, spreading hatred or inciting violence against communities is a punishable offence.
Speaking to TNM, Meera said, “Due to the pandemic, vulnerable sections across the country are facing problems and struggling with hunger in some cases. Hate mongering like this should not be allowed. We will write to the Chief Secretary (CS) and Director General of Police (DGP) asking them to take measures for the safety and security of transgender persons as there is already prejudice against the community in the society."
With the state registering more than 60 COVID-19 positive cases, different sorts of misinformation and fear-mongering is taking place on and off social media.