India Transgender Political Candidate Reappears After Kidnapping Fears

By Thomson Reuters Foundation 29 November 2018

MUMBAI — A transgender candidate in state elections in southern India has presented herself at a police station after her disappearance prompted fears of a kidnapping, police said on Thursday.

Chandramukhi Muvvala disappeared minutes after she left her one-room home on Tuesday morning in an informal settlement in Hyderabad, capital of Telangana state, where she is the only transgender candidate participating in Dec. 7 elections.

She walked into Banjara Hills police station in Hyderabad late on Wednesday night with her lawyer, said R. Govinda Reddy, an officer at the station, who added that Muvvala has yet to give a statement about what happened to her.

“Right now we do not suspect anybody. But if she makes an allegation against anyone in her statement, we will inquire into it,” Reddy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Muvvala was “extremely disoriented” when she reappeared, said her campaign aid Bittu Karthik.

Muvvala is an activist with the Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, a local advocacy group for hijras – or transgender women – which campaigns against transphobic violence.

India has about 2 million transgender people, according to the 2011 census. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that transgender people have equal rights under the law, they are often shunned and many survive through begging or sex work.

Muvvala’s disappearance sparked concern in the transgender community about her safety, according to Karthik, who is also a member of Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti.

“There is disproportionate amount of violence against transgender people and as an electoral candidate, we fear physical violence can be used,” Karthik said on Wednesday.

Police said they had deployed special teams to trace Muvvala after a local court ordered them on Wednesday to produce her in court by Thursday morning.

Karthik said in a text message on Thursday morning that Muvvala would appear in court.