District jail at Palakkad and Central prison at Viyyur have separate blocks at present
The Ernakulam district jail is set to get a dedicated block to lodge transgender persons.
The work, estimated to cost around ₹20 lakh, has been allotted to the buildings section of the Public Works Department (PWD) and is about to be tendered.
The district jail sources said the block would be able to accommodate around 20 persons at a time and could also lodge transgender accused from the neighbouring districts of Kottayam and Idukki. Once the new block materialises, the district jail will be the only one among six jails in Ernakulam to have such a facility.
The move comes close on the heels of the opening of a new police station at Aluva with a dedicated cell for transgender persons, the only station in central Kerala to have one at present.
“It is only fitting that new-age police stations are accommodative of the new realities and change in statutes and rules. Society is getting evolved all the time and police stations alone cannot stand still,” said K. Karthik, District Police Chief (Ernakulam Rural).
At present, police stations make stopgap arrangements when transgender persons are to be held overnight. “Usually they are kept in a common area where they can be monitored if the cell is already occupied. But, if they are violent and there is no way but to lock them up, then we put them in the cell and move out existing inmates and think on our foot to find alternative provisions to accommodate them,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
The district jail at Palakkad and the Central prison at Viyyur have a dedicated block each for transgender persons, with a combined capacity of around 30. Even transgender accused from Ernakulam are moved into these two jails. At present, the two blocks collectively have three inmates.
“We can convert more blocks for transgender persons if needed. The critical thing is to avoid mixing of other prisoners with transgender persons and safeguard both sections from any kind of violence,” said jail department sources.