No arrests days after gruesome murder of trans priest in India

No arrests days after gruesome murder of trans priest in India

Five days after a trans woman priest has been beheaded inside a temple in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, police have made no arrests.

The 38-year-old priest, named Rajathi, was beheaded on Friday (15 February). Her head was left outside the temple, according to local media.

The prime suspect, according to The News Minute (TMN), is Rajathi’s ex-lover, 23-year-old Marathu.

Maruthu, who had reportedly been harassing Rajathi after she ended the relationship, and another man entered the temple carrying a sickle on Friday.

‘He got angry that she was leaving him and also because he lost his secretary post this year. So he killed her’ police told TNM.

Local police in Thoothukudi have reportedly set up five teams to investigate the murder.

But, TMN reports, they are yet to make an arrest.

‘We almost caught him last night but he just managed to escape’ an officer told TMN.

‘We will catch him soon’ he said.

Police inaction

Local activist Grace Banu said police would have already caught the accused if the victim had been a cis woman.

‘They [police] know who the accused is and they still haven’t caught him’ the founder of Trans Rights Now Collective told TMN.

‘Because she was a trans woman, even though she was a priest who was murdered inside a temple, there has been no action yet’.

Trans villagers gathered to protest the murder over the weekend.

But, according to Banu, there would have been a far greater uproar if the victim had been cisgender.

’Just imagine the kind of protests that would have erupted in that area’ Banu said to TNM.

Trans Indians

While a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2014 recognized transgender as a third gender, the community remains marginalized.

India’s transgender population continue to experience violence despite  a landmark win for the LGBTI community last year.

Trans Indians and their allies have been urgently rallying against a transgender bill. They want a parliamentary committee in the Upper House to review the law.

India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill last month. They had hooped it would protect their rights.

But, the transgender community has slammed it. They claim it infringes their rights rather than protecting them.

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Author: Rik Glauert