Kashmir earthquake, Afghanistan earthquake, Kashmir trangender
Simran showing the cracks that developed after a earthquake hit the region on Tuesday. Photograph by Asma Bhat for The Kashmir Walla.

Srinagar: Since Simran left their home in a north Kashmir village 17 years ago, a sense of belonging has been missing. But the 31-year-old, who identifies themselves as transperson, made a home for herself in Srinagar. That home was jolted by the massive earthquake that hit the region on Tuesday night.

As the strong tremors jolted Kashmir, Simran could see the fragile walls, and ceiling, shaking. And the cracks developing. Worried for their life, they rushed out of the residence in Srinagar’s Habba Kadal.

Now, the sunlight spears through the cracks to enlighten their home. Showing around the home, Simran recalled the horror from last night. “I was very scared. Nobody [from the locality] allowed me to go inside the home because of the apparent cracks,” they told The Kashmir Walla. They spent the night at a community member’s home in Basant Bagh, in Srinagar.

Speaking with The Kashmir Walla, Dr. Aijaz Bund, Srinagar-based gender rights activist and founder of the Sonzal Welfare Trust, said, “Simran does not live with family anymore and it is not safe to live anymore. It can fall anytime.”

On Tuesday evening, a massive earthquake jolted several regions in South Asia, including Kashmir. The epicenter was found to be in Afghanistan and the quake was measured to be 6.5 on the Richter Scale.

By performing in wedding ceremonies, Simran attempted to strengthen their grip over life by working hard for nearly two decades. Three years ago, in 2020, they bought a property in the downtown area. A small, unplastered residence with three rooms. They called it home.

It came at a huge cost that they continue to pay in installments. “I’m still in debt of 1.5 lakh rupees because of this home,” they said. “I’m unable to pay because I have no work.”

From performances in wedding ceremonies to match-making, the transperson community in Kashmir struggles to find better job opportunities. While some start to work in small fashion boutiques, the Covid-19 lockdown has since pushed them to the wall.

“My own community is helping me to survive. And due to Allah’s grace, I don’t sleep hungry,” they said.

However, now, they find themselves in the middle of damnation, they said. “I came back to this home because I have no other place to go,” Simran told The Kashmir Walla. “Musafir ko ek hi baat hai, ab koode mai raho ya takht-taaj par.”

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