A video depicting two women from the Kuki-Zomi community being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a mob of men began circulating on Wednesday, bringing to light an incident that occurred in Manipur more than two months ago when the violence began.
Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani contacted the state’s chief minister N Biren Singh to discuss the video, which elicited vehement responses from across the political spectrum.
A senior police official verified that the incident occurred on May 4 in the district of Thoubal and that a zero FIR was filed on May 18 in the district of Kangpokpi. However, despite the fact that the FIR on charges including kidnapping, gangrape, and homicide against “unknown armed miscreants” was filed two months ago, no arrests have been made as of yet.
Manipur Superintendent of Police K Meghachandra Singh stated in an evening press release that the “state police is making every effort to apprehend the perpetrators as soon as possible.”
The two women, one in her twenties and the other in her forties are from the Kuki-Zomi-dominated Kangpokpi hill district. In the video, they can be seen being forced by a mob of men to walk nude down a road and into a field. Some of the men can be seen dragging the two women towards a field and molesting them forcibly.
While the incident occurred in the Meitei-dominated valley district of Thoubal, the victims subsequently filed a complaint at a police station in the Kangpokpi district, where a zero FIR was registered and the case was forwarded to the appropriate Thoubal police station.
According to their complaint, although the video depicts only two women, a third woman in her fifties was also compelled to disrobe by the mob. Additionally, the complaint alleges that the younger woman was “brutally gang-raped in broad daylight.”
In their complaint, the victims stated that five members of the village – three women and two family members of the youngest – fled towards the forest after a “group of 800-1,000 persons carrying sophisticated weapons like AK Rifles, SLR, INSAS, and.303 calibre ammunition” entered their village and began looting and burning it on the afternoon of May 4, a day after violence had erupted in the state on May 3.
Two kilometres away from the police station, a mob seized them from police custody after they were subsequently rescued by the police and taken to the station. They claimed that the father of the youngest woman was killed on the spot and that “all three women were physically forced to remove their clothes and were stripped naked in front of the mob” before the youngest was allegedly raped in front of the others. In addition, they claimed that her sibling was killed while attempting to assist her.
Later, the three women escaped through the neighbouring hill district of Tengnoupal and are presently in refugee camps.
In response to the video’s release, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a coalition of Churachandpur’s registered tribes, demanded that the state and central governments, the National Commision for Scheduled Tribes, and the National Commision for Women take note of the incident and take action against the perpetrators.
As the video provoked outrage, Irani tweeted, “The horrifying video of two women being sexually assaulted in Manipur is abhorrent and inhumane. “I spoke with Chief Minister N Biren Singh ji, who informed me that an investigation is underway and assured me that no effort will be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Congressman Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “The PM’s silence and inaction have led to anarchy in Manipur.” “INDIA will not remain mute as long as the concept of India is under attack in Manipur. We stand with the Manipuri people. He wrote that peace is the only way forwards.
In addition, party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attacked the prime minister. “The images of sexual violence perpetrated against women in Manipur are heartbreaking.” Any condemnation of this heinous event would be inadequate. Women and children bear the burden of the violence in our society. We must all condemn the violence with one voice while advancing Manipur’s peace efforts. Why is the federal government and the prime minister ignoring the violence in Manipur? Do these images and occurrences not disturb them?” She published on Twitter.
The Aam Aadmi Party issued a statement condemning the incident, stating, “The inaction of the State and Central governments is painful for all of the country’s citizens.” Again, we request the Prime Minister’s intervention in Manipur. Turning a blind eye to the issue will not resolve it. The Aam Aadmi Party is willing to assist in any way the Central Government deems appropriate.”
Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha representative for the Shiv Sena (UBT), tweeted, “This apathy regarding the ongoing violence and violence based on ethnicity is absolutely disgraceful. The PM has not yet spoken; will the WCD minister?”