On behalf of QAM, The Humsafar Trust is arranging an urgent press conference at Humsafar Drop In Center, Vakola, Mumbai on January 14 2012 (today) at 5 pm. Please reach out to the press and inform as many of their members as possible.
Please turn up in large numbers! We need your support!
When : January 14, 2012 5 PM onwards
Where: Drop In Center, The Humsafar Trust, Third Floor, Manthan Plaza, Vakola, Santacruz (East), Mumbai.
Say ‘NO’ to homophobia and discrimination!
Queer Azaadi Zindabad!!
Personal account of yesterday’s events by Pallav Patankar:
The Gossip Fund Raiser party was held last night in Metro Lounge in Oshiwara. Gossip had a QAM fundraiser wherein every entry contributed Rs.100 towards QAM. The party had revved up enough numbers and people seemed comfortable in the disco area and the terrace above. At 11:45 pm Vivek , and I were about to leave the party when Sibi mentioned that there was an issue downstairs.
As we walked towards the exit we had the venue staff telling us that we could not leave since there were police outside. A guy wearing a pony tail, beard, kohl eyed and wearing a vest was standing there instructing the police to go and check on the party. His name is Haji Ahmed Sahab Bawa (HASB) claiming to be a member of the NCP. He also was showing videos that he had clicked inside the party. He was threatening the venue staff that he would raise complaints against them and that seemed to have freaked them. There was confusion for some time as to whether we could leave or not. Some of us stood at the gate asking the cops the exact reason why they were present. The cops mentioned that they were checking on the venue’s permissions and seeing if everything was in order. Although the cops were not being very aggressive, HASB was giving directions to the cops as to what they should do. He kept talking incessantly on the phone shouting “Media ko bulao!”.
Sibi tried to speak to the cops and HASB by mentioning that we are doing nothing illegal and that section 377 reading down clearly states so. HASB mentioned that his party had ordered a stay in the Supreme Court against reading down of section 377 (factually incorrect). He kept threatening the police and the venue staff.
Vivek and I tried to understand from the police what exactly the issue was but we were not getting any clear answers. We requested the police that we would like to address the issue at the police station and understand the reason why the party was being stopped. They mentioned that they were from Oshiwara Police Station. We ensured that all party goers be safely allowed to leave the venue and police co-operated. As we walked out there was a huge crowd that had collected on the street outside. HASB came out and I yelled out to him that we wanted to see him in the police station and understand his issues. He did not hear me and ran towards the car as I ran behind him yelling at him to come to Oshiwara Police station. He was accompanied by a guy who held me and pushed me away, I asked him if he was police, since he was in plainclothes. I told him that he had no proof that he was the police. He pushed me away again. I told him that he had no business touching me. The guy dashed along with HASB to the car and said that they were going to the police station. I told him that I did not believe that he is going to the police station and what if he got away. I went close to his car and started taking pics of HASB. By this time a crowd of 10-15 from the party had collected and had surrounded HASB’s car and refused to let him drive away. We took more pictures. We finally let him drive away when we were assured by the uniformed police that the guy with him in the car was a policeman.
We went to the Oshiwara police station and saw HASB’s car waiting outside. A crowd 30 people from the party of collected outside Oshiwara Police station. Vivek, Praful, Sibi and I were allowed inside to talk to the police station. It was a long wait. HASB sat with the police inspector, Shirsat of Oshiwara police station and gave his complaint in writing. While HASB was with the police, the policeman in plainclothes got into an argument with us. He said that he would make an official complaint that he was attacked by the party goers. We calmed him down and explained that we were all homosexual men and we saw nothing wrong with that. We have a Pride March on the 28th which has valid police permissions and we are only fundraising for it. After that he calmed down and said that he was on duty and we were free to present our point of view to the police inspector. Then the police discussed the issue with the Gossip venue manager and asked him to “kill the issue”. The manager was extremely worried about his venue being in trouble and did not wish to make a big issue about the incident. He kept on asking us to back out. We refused saying that it was not about the venue but an issue about our identities being attacked, and that due care would be taken that the venue did not face any problems. We insisted that we speak to Inspector Shirsath. Sibi, Vivek and I presented ourselves at Shirsat’s table and discussed the issue. Shirsat mentioned that he had no problems with the party and there is no illegality with being gay. He quoted HASB and mentioned that he had asked HASB to produce documentary evidence that says that gay parties are illegal. Shirsath mentioned that ideally when a party is being organized there needs to be an intimation to the local police station about the party, they did not have it and hence they were obliged to act on a complaint by HASB. On the whole Shisrath was very cordial and apologized if on behalf of his police team there was any inconvenience caused to anyone.
Shirsath mentioned that there would be a meeting in Oshiwara Police station on Saturday along with HASB and someone, either Vivek or me maybe, called to present our point of view. HASB has filed an NC of damage to his car.
We asked Shirsath how we could file a complaint against HASB. Shirsath replied that he would give us his details and we could do the needful.
Outside the crowds were on the street till 2:30 am. We went out and apprised them of our conversations with the police. Mid Day and Times Now Reporters were outside for the story and the crowd of 30 faced the cameras to say that we were fundraising here and we were not scared anymore. We will fight this harassment and ensure that QAM 2012 is a success!
Back at Vivek’s house I could not sleep until I had typed this out.