Tributes have poured in for Coimbatore Transgender Association President Sangeetha, who was found murdered at her residence on Wednesday.
Tamil Nadu Police have arrested 23-year-old Rajesh, with reports that allegedly killed Sangeetha who had rejected his sexual advances. Police Commissioner Sumit Saran told TNM that a 'personal dispute' was the cause for the murder, however, a press release from the department states that Sangeetha was killed by Rajesh for allegedly rejecting his sexual advances.
Rajesh who is from the Nagapattinam district was working at the Covai Trans Kitchen, a restaurant Sangeetha opened to employ members of the transgender community who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Rajesh allegedly continually harassed Sangeetha and when she threatened to file a police complaint, he murdered her. He allegedly stabbed Sangeetha in the neck before stuffing her into a plastic barrel filled with saltwater. Rajesh is facing charges for murder and the disappearance of evidence. However, the case is still under investigation and police are still conducting interrogations with the accused.
Trans Rights Now Collective Grace Banu commented on Sangeetha’s passing stating, “We are achieving many things despite insults, difficulties, hostile environment". “To know one more such transgender person had to meet such a cruel death at the hands of some unknown person gives a lot of heartburn and sorrow,” she added.
Banu also applauded her activism noting that she "was a respected activist of the community,”
In 2019, a transgender priest named Rajathi was beheaded in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi district and police still haven’t made any arrests. “In both the crimes, the targets were transgender persons who were visible and respectable. It is an attempt to silence such members of the community,” stated Banu.