Eunuch Leader Takes A Stand

 Transgender rickshaw driver fights for his community, leads protests against corrupt police, municipal employees in India’s Allahabad. In Ajeet Bhaadur’s city Allahabad, over 3 thousand cycle rickshaw drivers are protesting against corrupt policemen and municipality staff who force the poor rickshaw drivers to pay bribes for obtaining a driving license. The protest movement of the rickshaw drivers is led by Veeru Dada – a Eunuch and a former rickshaw driver herself. Cycle rickshaws have been the cheapest and most popular means of transport for several decades. But right now the entire public transport system is undergoing a total revamp as the government is trying to modernize the city. As a part of that cycle rickshaws have been asked to get a driving license. But when the drivers apply for a license, the municipality staff demands a hefty bribe. Similarly police also extorts money from them. Those who refuse to pay are denied a license and their rickshaws are confiscated. Almost every one of the city’s 3 thousand cycle rickshaw drivers is poor, under or uneducated and from a marginalized community. Most of them drive a hired rickshaw which means everyday they have to pay 50% of their total income as rent to the owner. Since the daily earnings of a rickshaw driver is a maximum Rs.100, he has about Rs. 50 (roughly $1) to feed his own family. Says Ajeet, the earnings of the rickshaw driver is so meager that he can’t even afford a proper meal. Paying bribes is therefore like a huge punishment to him. As we see in the video, Veeru Dada, the transgender leader of the cycle rickshaw drivers used to drive a rickshaw earlier. But constant harassment by the police forced her to give up pulling rickshaw and do what other transgender people do – begging, singing at rituals or selling sex. While shooting this video Ajeet, who is also a human rights activist, was shocked to see that the city administration was least concerned about the rickshaw drivers’ problems. After this protest rally when the drivers the city commissioner and threatened to go on strike if the extortion didn’t stop, the commissioner laughed at them. This was the moment that made Ajeet decide to do this video. He thinks that the attitude must change, because as a free citizen every rickshaw driver has a right to earn a livelihood and live a life of dignity, free of harassment.

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manishkumar

I have done my Post Graduate Diploma in Development Communication from Mass communication Research Centre (MCRC) Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi and also holds a Post Graduate diploma in mass.....read more

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