R. Rajesh, 24, confessed Friday to the murder of transgender woman M. Sangeetha, 59, an entrepreneur and matriarch of a transgender association in the Coimbatore district. While police believe that R. Rajesh is the main culprit they are actively searching for others believed to be his accomplices.
Sangeetha, a revered elder, hired Rajesh to cook at her new restaurant ‘Covai Trans Kitchen’, on East Venkataswamy Road in September. Being a compassionate soul also allowed him to stay in her home as it was too far to commute from his residence in the Nagapattinam district.
Wednesday police found Sangeetha’s body, her throat slit, stuffed into a rain barrel covered in salt, an apparent attempt to delay decomposition and discovery.
On Thursday, Rajesh surrendered at the Sanganoor Village Administrative Office and was later handed over to the police. He confessed to having stolen ₹20,000 ($270USD) from Sangeetha’s residence and ran away to his hometown, the police said.
According to the Hindu, Rajesh murdered Sangeetha Sunday night when she threatened to report him to police on charges of sexual assault.
Her murder might have gone unnoticed by mainstream media if not for transgender artist actress Kalki Subramaniam founder of the Sahodari Foundation. Kalki, herself a sexual assault survivor lamented on social media “Why haven’t our leaders, actors or celebrities spoken up about the murder of transgender woman Sangeetha?”
Her call for compassion and action were heard around the world.
According to dtnext news police quickly formed multiple task forces and brought him back to stand trial.
Police registered a case against the accused under IPC section 302 for murder and 201 for causing disappearance of evidence.
Rajesh was produced in court and remanded in judicial custody on Friday.
But will there be justice for Sangeetha?
The legislature was compelled to write laws to align with the groundbreaking 2014 Supreme Court Ruling which called on the Union Government to ensure equal treatment for transgender people.
However, a government rule in its final stages of approval would set the maximum punishment of two years in cases of certain offenses like physical or sexual abuse of a transgender person is discriminatory in nature.
Petitioners have claimed it is unjust pointing out that the Indian Penal Code prescribes seven years to life and in cases of similar offenses against cisgender women.
Rajesh may not have contemplated raping Sangeetha if he knew transgender people were treated equally under the law.
Tragically, the government’s inequitable interpretation of the SC ruling has resulted in yet another transgender murder and another cisgender man awaiting a death sentence.