Sajana Shaji belongs to the transgender community and runs a small biryani stall in Kochi, Kerala, along with four other members from the community. Recently, Shaji took to Facebook and shared a disturbing incident that happened when she wanted to sell food, briyani, by the roadside for which she has a licence. She blamed that few local men harassed her and attacked her employees. State health minister KK Shailaja took immediate action after Shaji’s post went viral.
Spoke to Sajana, transgender person who was attacked by anti-social elements yesterday. Sajana earns her living by selling biryani by the roadside in Ernakulam. Assured that necessary assistance and security will be provided. pic.twitter.com/4sydNCqRda
— Shailaja Teacher (@shailajateacher) October 13, 2020
Minister KK Shailaja intervened and the Tripunithura police have made an arrest in this connection. “When she came to know about Sajana’s complaint, Social Justice Minister KK Shailaja intervened and directed the officials to take immediate action,” an official said.
District social justice officer John Joshi K J has also offered financial aid to Shaji after Shailaja decided to lend a helping hand. “Spoke to Sajana, transgender person who was attacked by anti-social elements yesterday. Sajana earns her living by selling biryani by the roadside in Ernakulam. Assured that necessary assistance and security will be provided,” she wrote on Twitter.
Sajana Shaji’s Story
Since the pandemic hit the country, Shaji started selling biryani for a living. She has even hired four other transgender women and men to manage the stall with her. “It has been three months since we started our food business and we have been doing good,” Shaji said.
According to Shaji, a few weeks ago a group of men, who used to sell dried fish in front of their biryani stall, started troubling them. “They hurl insults and taunt us,” she said. They even questioned the quality of the food. “All this has hit our business and we were unable to sell the packets. We used to sell the entire 200 packets of biriyani plus 20 meals every day. However, since the past few weeks, we are left holding 150 packets of biryani,” said Shaji, who has set up five biryani stalls in Kochi.
“What should we do? When we seek help from people, they tell us why don’t you get a job or earn a living in a respectful manner. However, when we actually do something to earn a living, these very people start working against us. So, can you please tell me what should we do? Where should we go?” she said.
The News Minute also reported that despite many complaints, police refused to help Shaji and her group. “When I went to the police station to file a complaint, the cops there weren’t helpful. They mocked me. They wanted to know whether I really did sell biriyanis. The police have not lifted even the small finger to take action against the hooligans,” she cried. “Our business supported our families. At present, we don’t have even the necessary funds to buy the raw materials needed to make biriyani. If nothing is done, we will be forced to go back to the streets,” she said.
Shaji even has a license from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for food sale. Previously, she worked in the online food delivery sector.