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A city in central India has elected the country’s first transgender mayor, nine months after a court ruled that transgender be recognized as a legal third gender, local media reported.

Madhu Kinnar, 35, won the mayoral election in Raigarh a city of about 150,000 in the mineral-rich state of Chhattisgarh on Sunday, beating her opponent from the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by more than 4,500 votes, the Press Trust of India reported in a story published.

Television images showed a sari-clad Kinnar, with a large red bindi on her forehead, greeting supporters who placed marigold garlands around her neck.

Kinnar, who is from the Dalit community and used to earn a living singing and dancing in trains, said that she was overwhelmed by her election.

“People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams,” Kinnar was quoted as saying.

“It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the … fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner.”

Activists say there are hundreds of thousands of transgender people in India, but because they were not legally recognized, they faced ostracism, discrimination, abuse and forced prostitution.

Last April, India’s Supreme Court recognized transgender as a legal third gender and called on the government to ensure their equal treatment.

While the landmark judgement was welcomed by human rights campaigners, many say it contradicts the court’s reinstatement of a gay sex ban that has resulted in an increase in the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, forcing many to conceal their sexual identity.-Reuters


GUWAHATI, India – Indian police have arrested a 36-year-old woman suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate the prime minister of Bangladesh and carry out a coup, police said on Saturday.

The arrest comes days after Indian security officials said they had uncovered a plot by members of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, accused of carrying out scores of attacks in Bangladesh, targeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The group also planned to assassinate the country’s main opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, Indian officials said. Hasina and Zia have dominated Bangladeshi politics for more than a decade.

Pallab Bhattacharjee, additional director general of police in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, said the woman had been also charged with collecting arms with an intention of waging war against India.

“She has been arrested by the special operations unit of the Assam Police and will be produced in court today,” he said.

The alleged assassination conspiracy was discovered after two members of the outlawed group were killed in an explosion while building homemade bombs at a house in West Bengal in eastern India last month.

Indian police say the militants were Bangladeshis and were using India as a safe haven to plan the attacks.

Mainly-Muslim Bangladesh has suffered three major army coups and two dozen smaller rebellions since gaining independence from Pakistan in 1971. -Reuters


NEW DELHI – Malaysia’s Consul-General in Chennai, Tamil Nadu has been in touch with all Malaysian students in the southern Indian state directly, via student leaders as well as social media with regards to safety issues amid the riots that erupted there on Saturday.

“When it comes to safety, it’s the students we inform first as well as other Malaysians,” Malaysia’s Consul General in Chennai, Chitra Devi Ramiah said.

Protests and riots erupted immediately after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J.Jayalalithaa, 66, was convicted for owning disproportionate assets on Saturday. She was sentenced to four years jail and fined Rs100 crore (US$16.30 million).

Coincidently, the same day there was a gathering of Malaysians, which was attended by students and student leaders and they were informed immediately on the situation.

“The Malaysian consulate (in Chennai) packed food for them as well as ensured their safe return to the respective colleges,” she told Bernama when contacted on news of a student claiming of not getting any help from the consulate.

A news report quoted a students from Meenakshi Ammal Dental College in Chennai, as saying that the situation was bad and they might run out of food.

The student also claimed that they were not being kept informed of the situation by the Malaysian Students Association.

“Everyone was informed via the official channel that we have for the association. I was at the gathering on Saturday and we got first hand information from the Consul-General,” the association’s president for the Chennai Chapter, Priya Dharshini Palasuperamaniam, 23, said.

The Consul-General even offered the Consulate as well as her own house for students to take shelter in case the situation turned worse, she added.

However, the situation in Chennai is not as bad as reported back in Malaysia.

“In Chennai, life was back to normal on Sunday itself,” Priya said.

Asked on the availability of food, the intern student from Sri Ramachandra University, Porur, which is 12km from Chennai, said all the colleges have their own canteens.

“Colleges have hostel food and canteens. They were operating as normal and there is no way students will run out of food,” said Priya.

Consul (Education & Training) in Chennai, Annie Sabrina Lasumin also announced through official channels and social media that situation in Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai was calm.

“Shopping complexes and business premises have opened since yesterday.

“However, it is advisable to be cautious at all times and avoid unnecessary commuting or visiting risky places,” she said.

There are about 5,000 Malaysian students in southern India, with some 900 in in Tamil Nadu. – Bernama