Bidhan Barua, a student from Guwahati, on Wednesday threatened to commit suicide after the Bombay high court refused to hear his petition urging for a direction to his parents to allow him undergo a sex change operation. Vrushali Lad reports
Bidhan Barua is an anxious man. Not only does his fate hang in the hands of the Bombay high court, but he also cannot decide a date of marriage till a court order permits him to have a life-changing surgery.
Barua, 21, hit the headlines last month when he ran away from his hometown in Guwahati, Assam, to come to Mumbai for a sex reassignment surgery. He had saved up a tidy sum of money from the tuition classes he used to take, plus from some other odd jobs, and he took an appointment with doctors at the south Mumbai-based Saifee Hospital for his surgery. "Unfortunately for me, my parents tracked me down via a cousin who had accompanied me. They got my phone number here, the names of the doctors who were to operate on me, and they threatened the doctors against the surgery," Barua told rediff.com on Wednesday.
Barua, who petitioned the HC last month to direct his parents to allow him the surgery, is aghast at how adamant his parents are being in the matter. "They never supported me right since my childhood, though I was their youngest child. My mannerisms, the fact that I loved dressing up and acting like a girl embarrassed them," said Barua.
He said his parents even beat him up on numerous occasions, and made him do housework in a bid to shame him. But he says he doesn't care what they think or do any more. "I want to get married this month. My fiancé works with the Air Force, and this month will work out well for both of us. Also, I am 21 years old and the Constitution of India clearly states that a person attaining maturity does not need the consent of others in matters affecting him. I am certain that the court will rule in my favour."
On Wednesday, an emotional Barua threatened to commit suicide after a division bench of justices A R Joshi and S Vajifdar refused to hear the matter on Wednesday, deferring it to May 7 instead. Ejaz Naqvi, Barua's lawyer told rediff.com, "His parents have blocked his bank account, leaving him without any money. He was agitated because he does not even have the cash to pay his mobile phone bill, and he has moved into a hotel, which is also running up huge bills for him." He added, "The honourable judges felt that this was not a matter that required an emergency hearing, and could be heard next week. As a lawyer, I have to respect the court's decision. However, I have counselled Bidhan against taking any drastic steps."
What's the hurry?
Barua has hit the panic button because the courts go on vacation from May 11. "The court needs to give its orders before that date," he said. "Doctors who examined me here (Mumbai) told me that the entire reassignment surgery will take a week. Six months later, I will have to return to Mumbai for the next stage of treatment. In the mean time, I have to undergo hormonal treatments till such time that the doctors see fit."
If all goes as per plan, he feels, he can get his surgery done and have some time left for at least an engagement this month, if not a wedding.
Barua is also terrified of the amount of money his Mumbai sojourn is costing. "I have already spent about Rs 70,000 since I got here," he said. "I have about Rs 1,17,000 in my account. Now that the account is blocked, I am left with no money at all. I have to pay my lawyer, pay the court fees, and settle my hotel dues. I am running from pillar to post asking for monetary help, but nobody has helped me thus far," he said.
Barua said he also approached noted lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi, but got no response. "I was hopeful of some help from her, but she has not responded to my plea. I have approached a lot of NGOs in the city, but there has been no response yet."
What about his fiance? "Of the money lying in my account, about a third was put together by him. I cannot pressure him to support me, because he is financing his brother's education. Besides, he has promised his support to me in every way, so I am not worried. He has even signed a declaration pledging his support, so I do not doubt his integrity for even a moment," said Barua.
Will he make up with his parents?
"I am only waiting to be turned into a woman and get married to my fiancé as soon as possible," Barua said. "I actually don't care what my parents do or say any more. I can't wait for their approval, and I will never get their acceptance. If they ever wish to be in touch with me again, they will have to take the first step to communicate with me." He, however, doesn't see how a reconciliation will be possible. "They threatened to kill me; they call me every day to issue fresh threats. They have done everything possible to prevent my surgery from taking place. If only they had given me some support and tried to understand why I need to do this."
He also hopes that activists and organisations affiliated with the LGBT community to come out in support of his case. "If I get the order in my favour, it will open the doors for several others like me who need to do this but are afraid of their families and society," he said. Meanwhile, he has written to the chief justice of India, chief justice of the Bombay high court and the National Human Rights Commission, urging them to intervene in the case by Wednesday evening, failing which he would commit suicide. "I have asked the court to help me, or let me commit suicide," he said.