Women paraded naked were forcefully taken away from police custody in Manipur
The whole nation was shaken on Wednesday when a video, purportedly showing two women from the Kuki-Zo community in Manipur being paraded naked and being sexually assaulted openly by a mob of men, emerged on social media. The incident allegedly took place in Kangpokpi district back in May when the ethnic clash in the northeastern state erupted for the first time.
A senior police officer confirmed that the incident took place on May 4 and a zero FIR was registered in the matter on May 18 at the Nongpok Sekmai Police Station, Thoubal district. However, no arrests have been made two months after the FIR was registered on charges including abduction, gang rape and murder against "unknown armed miscreants".
Manipur Superintendent of Police K Meghachandra Singh, on Wednesday, said the “state police is making an all-out effort to arrest the culprits at the earliest”.
In the purported video, two women from the Kuki-Zomi-dominated hill district of Kangpokpi, one in her 20s and the other in her 40s, were seen being made to walk naked down a road by a mob of men. Some of the men were also seen dragging the two women towards a field and forcibly groping them.
In their complaint, the two women seen in the video also mentioned the presence of another woman in her 50s who was also forced to take her clothes off by the mob.
The complaint also alleges that the younger woman was “brutally gang raped in broad daylight”.
The women's account
According to the complaint lodged by the women on May 18, five members of the village, including the three women and two family members of the youngest, had fled towards the forest as a “group of 800-1,000 persons carrying sophisticated weapons like AK Rifles, SLR, INSAS and .303 Rifles” entered their village and later looted and burnt it on May 4 afternoon, a day after violence had erupted in the state on May 3.
The victims alleged that police later came to rescue them. They were being taken to the police station when a mob stopped them on the way and seized them from police custody around two kilometres away from the police station. They mentioned in the complaint that the mob forced all three women to remove their clothes and were stripped naked after which they alleged that the youngest was raped in front of the others. They also alleged that her brother was killed while trying to help her.
It was also mentioned in the complaint that the youngest woman’s father was killed on the spot.
The three women were later able to escape through the adjoining hill district of Tengnoupal and are currently in relief camps.
In response to the release of the video, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a conglomerate of registered tribes in Churachandpur, demanded that the state and central governments, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and the National Commission for Women take cognizance of the incident and act against the perpetrators.
Actions taken by state police
According to the official statement issued by Manipur Police on Wednesday, the state police and Central forces have concluded search operations in several vulnerable and fringe areas including the valley and hill districts.
It has been reported that two arms with magazines were retrieved by the Imphal East district police during the search operation.
In a bid to maintain law and order, curfew relaxation has been curtailed in five valley districts.
The official statement also said that 126 checkpoints have been installed in different districts of Manipur while police have made 452 arrests in connection with rule violations in different districts.
To restore normalcy in the state, authorities have appealed for public cooperation.