“Alliance India is shocked and deeply saddened over the injuries and loss of life resulting from the tragic fire on Sunday night (20 November) during ‘Kinnar Sammelan’, a meeting of more than 1,000 hijras at Nand Nagari in the North East District of New Delhi, India.
Early estimates indicate that at least 15 hijras have died, and many more were critically injured. The fire broke out at the community centre where the event took place and spread quickly to tents that had been set up to handle the crowds. Authorities have speculated that an electrical short-circuit sparked the fire.
Authorities must undertake a comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of this fire and to work actively to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Adequate support for those affected also needs to be provided by the responsible government entities as is the practice in India after such disasters.
While the media has provided significant coverage of this tragedy, reporters have repeatedly used the term “eunuch” instead of “hijra,” the accepted designation for this group. The media must give up this outmoded language and start covering the lives of hijras with the dignity they deserve.
Considered sacred, hijras in India continue to face profound social marginalisation, poor access to services, and a disproportionately high HIV prevalence. More needs to be done to protect their rights and promote their health and wellbeing. Alliance India and its partners stand in solidarity with the close-knit hijra community in India during this time of suffering and we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to all affected.”