A transwoman was shot dead by two men in DHA Phase VI, near a commercial area situated off Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, late on Tuesday night.
Thirty-year-old Nadeem Masih alias Chanda was shot dead by the two men apparently after a heated argument.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) South Saqib Ismail Memon told The News that the police have ruled out personal enmity as a motive behind the attack.
Darakhshan police station’s SHO, Aurangzaib Khattak, said Chanda was a part of a four-member group of transwomen who regularly gathered at a point near the area she was murdered.
SHO Khattak added that Chanda’s associates in their statements told the police that they were standing near their designated spot when the SUV pulled up.
“They told us that the men in the car abused them and when they [Chanda’s group] responded in kind, they hurled eggs at them,” added the SHO.
SHO Khattak further told The News that Chanda and her group had left the spot to avoid a clash, as had the perpetrators, but the latter turned back within seconds and opened fire at the group.
The men sped away leaving Chanda injured, her friends informed the SHO. The victim was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for treatment where the doctors declared her dead on arrival.
Her body was handed to her family upon completion of medico-legal formalities. Head Mohrir at the Darakhshan police station, Rana Ajmal, confirmed the registration of an FIR against unidentified attackers on the complaint of Chanda’s father, Anwar Masih.
However, SSP Memon stated that the police does not have any clue about who the suspects were. He said the police could not retrieve a clear CCTV footage of the incident. Taking notice of the incident, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal directed the SSP South to arrest the suspects.
‘Not the first incident’
A transgender activist, model and actress, Kami Sid, while speaking to The News said the cold blooded murder was not a one-off instance to have occurred in the city; rather there have been such cases in the past too.
“DHA isn’t a locality that can be dubbed as ‘unsafe’, so we would like to know where the law enforcement agencies are. I am hoping that the upcoming sexual policy bill would aid in safeguarding our rights because as of now, we are barely even considered humans, let alone as individuals of a transgender community.
Harassment is becoming frequent in this area and it’s considered normal to throw water or eggs at us, and if we seek help then the police authorities tend to side with the harassers,” she said.
“As far as a protest is concerned, I think it is high time to demand protection instead of solely raising a voice of concern because people eventually forget that a person from our community was lost to violence,” she added.
AFP adds: In 2009, Pakistan became one of the first countries in the world to legally recognise a third sex, allowing transgenders to obtain identity cards, while several have also run in elections.
Despite these strides, many transgender Pakistanis face rampant discrimination and are forced to live as pariahs, often reduced to begging or prostitution and subjected to extortion and violence.
The killing comes as transgender activists dismissed early results from a long-awaited national census that aimed to record the community’s population for the first time.
According to data released this week officials said Pakistan’s transgender community comprised just over 10,000 people, prompting outrage from activists who said the government survey was inaccurate.
The findings stand in stark contrast to much larger estimates from past studies conducted by non-profits and development organisations that put the community’s population in the hundreds of thousands.
“From my personal interactions in the community, I know of more than 900 transgender people in [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province},” said Farzana Riaz, head of Transaction, a Pakistan-based trans-rights organisation.
“In the whole of Pakistan, there must be hundreds of thousands... but the census has erased the presence of transgender people,” she added. Pakistan had not held a census for nearly two decades due to years of bickering by politicians concerned it could redraw the political map and potentially weaken their power base and access to federal funding.
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