Manipur video: Rape FIR sat dormant for 62 days due to high-level meetings

The FIR accumulated dust at two police stations in the 62 days between a complaint being made in connection with the sexual assault of two women in Manipur and the release of a video of the incident, even as the state witnessed multiple high-level meetings to discuss the security situation.

According to The Indian Express, it took more than a month for the FIR to be moved to the appropriate police station since the victims fled their houses and addressed authorities in another area.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh sought to explain the delay in police action a day after the video aired, prompting calls for his resignation, claiming, “There were over 6,000 FIRs even as the violence continued.” When the footage surfaced, police were attempting to solve the case. As soon as we got our hands on the film, we were able to identify the perpetrators, and we took swift action, arresting two people, including the principal perpetrator.”

The ladies were undressed and paraded on May 4 in Thoubal’s valley district, and the spouse of one of the victims filed a police complaint on May 18. However, it wasn’t until Wednesday that authorities took action, detaining four of the individuals in the video.

While one of the four has been recognised as 32-year-old Huirem Herodas Meitei, the other three have yet to be named.

While there was no progress in the enquiry into this crime, the state saw a series of high-profile visits and high-level meetings to discuss the violence:

Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff, visited the state on May 27 to assess security.

Home Minister Amit Shah came to Manipur on May 29 for a four-day visit that included many rounds of security review meetings as well as discussions with multiple stakeholders.

The Central Government established a Commission of Enquiry on June 4th, led by former Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Ajai Lamba.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, the leader of the North East Democratic Alliance and the Chief Minister of Assam, visited Imphal on June 10 to meet with CM Singh and other stakeholders. Later, he visited with Kuki stakeholders in Assam.

Shah convened an all-party conference in Delhi on June 24.

On June 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presided over a high-level meeting attended by Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, and senior officials.

Chief Minister Singh, DGP Rajiv Singh, and Manipur Unified Command chief Kuldeep Singh did not react to questions about whether this specific instance was brought to their knowledge during state-level security review meetings.

When questioned why it took police more than two months to act, Thoubal Superintendent of Police Sachidananda stated police “could not take any action” so far due to “lack of evidence.”

“We only found out about the video yesterday. We have swung into action and began making arrests now that we have evidence in the shape of the video,” he said.

He further blamed the delay on the victims’ absence from Thoubal following the event.

According to the police complaint, the women were with officers from Thoubal’s Nongpok Sekmai police station when a mob apprehended them.

When asked how police personnel failed to identify any of the criminals, the SP stated that the statement in the complaint was false and that police were not present at the scene. “On that day, people were attempting to steal arms from the Nongpok Sekmai police station.” “Police were guarding the police station,” he explained.

In contrast, one of the women who was allegedly raped by the mob told The Indian Express, “The police were there with the mob that was attacking our village.” The cops picked us up close home, drove us out from the settlement, and then abandoned us on the road with the mob. The police handed us over to them.”

Another snag was the case’s relocation across police stations. The allegation was initially lodged at the Saikul police station in the Kangpokpi district, where a zero FIR was issued. The matter was finally transferred to the competent police station in Nongpok Sekmai on June 21.

The FIR was filed against “unknown miscreants numbering about 900-1,000” for a variety of offences, including rape, abduction, and murder.

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