9 Feb 2021
Kannur, Kerala (India)
Sneha was found outside her home suffering from serious burns. She died on the way to hospital.
KANNUR: K Sneha [other sources say Sneha K], 34, the lone transgender woman who had contested in the recent local body elections in the state, died of burns following a self-immolation bid in front of her house at Thottada Samjwadi colony here on Tuesday night.
Sneha had stood as an independent candidate from Kizhunna ward of Kannur Corporation. Her candidature attracted wide media attention, especially during the campaigning period.
According to eyewitnesses, she came out of her house at 10pm, poured kerosene over her head and set herself ablaze. Sneha, who lived with husband Rajesh and parents Suleiman and Kochamma, was employed in the construction sector.
She also worked in catering and was a member of the transgender Kudumbashree unit. Edakkad police, who have registered a case of unnatural death, said family issues were behind her extreme step.
Sneha was a social activist who spoke loudly for the advancement of trans rights in India and fought for better living conditions and improvements to the infrastructure of her community.
In 2020 she had stood as an independent candidate for Kannur Municipal Corporation (the civic administration body of Kannur). As the only trans candidate, in the process she had attracted widespread media attention.
Sneha told The Hindu in November that she saw her candidacy as an opportunity to work closely with the local people and improve the situation in their ward. She said candidates representing political parties “have ignored the region for long”.
“This prompted me to enter the fray,” she said at the time.
Sneha described how the ward residents lived in unhygienic conditions, there were no proper drainage systems and the roads were decrepit. She said that after undergoing gender affirmation surgery in 2019, she felt more confident in herself. Sneha said she had put off the surgery for so long because of years of social neglect and stigma.
She said: “I feel more confident now, and I am sure that people will accept me and give me an opportunity to serve them.
“It is a beginning, and my effort to serve people will continue whether I win or not.”