On July 19 Story of Manipurs Violence, a deeply disturbing video emerged, capturing a horrifying incident involving two Kuki women, one aged in her 40s and the other in her 20s. In the video, they were subjected to an appalling act of violence perpetrated by a group of apparently Meitei men. The women were forcibly stripped, paraded naked on the streets, and physically assaulted. The distressing scene unfolded after they were taken away from a police station by a hostile mob while trying to escape the violence-stricken areas.
Beyond the Headlines: Understanding the Complexities of Manipur’s Violence
Tragically, the ordeal did not end there, younger victim endured the harrowing experience of being gang-raped, while, heartbreakingly, the father and teenage brother of one of the victims lost their lives while bravely attempting to protect her from the violent mob.
The distressing incident involving the two Kuki women, subjected to heinous violence, took an even more troubling turn when it became apparent that no action was taken by the police for over two months, despite the complaint being lodged. This lack of response by the authorities has raised serious concerns, leading the Kuki community to accuse the police of favoring the Meitei community.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, the emergence of the video was delayed due to an internet shutdown in Manipur, lasting more than two months since the incident occurred. As a result, critical evidence was withheld from public view, leaving the victims without the attention and protection they deserved.
Viral video of naked Kuki women
Even as the viral video of 2 Kuki women paraded naked shocked the country, a false 'news update' by ANI — that one Abdul Hilim was arrested in the case — sparked communal misinformation, as it was lapped up by the Right Wing. WATCHpic.twitter.com/Gc2zCpmdL2— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) July 25, 2023
One of the victims, expressing her frustration and despair, revealed that they felt abandoned and betrayed by the police, as they were seemingly abandoned to the mercy of the violent mob.
In the aftermath of the incident, Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh defended his decision to impose an internet ban in the state, citing a series of similar incidents. However, the prolonged ban has also drawn criticism for impeding transparency, communication, and access to information in the region.
The gravity of this situation demands immediate attention and thorough investigation, ensuring justice for the victims. A fair and impartial inquiry is necessary to restore trust and address the underlying tensions between communities, fostering an environment where all citizens can feel safe and protected.
In response to the circulation of the video, the Supreme Court swiftly reacted, warning that it would intervene if the government failed to take appropriate action. This move came after around 80 days of silence from Prime Minister Modi regarding the violence that had been unfolding. The video going viral prompted the Prime Minister to finally address the situation, expressing that his heart was “full of pain and anger.”
Many individuals pointed out that the internet shutdown in the state had facilitated a cover-up of the incident, implying that information about the violence might have been suppressed during this period.
Following media reports about the National Commission of Women (NCW) being aware of the incident, as they had received a complaint in June, the chairperson of the NCW stated that she had forwarded the complaint to authorities in Manipur three times but received no response.
On the 20th of July, 2023, the Manipur police reported that they had arrested four individuals in connection with the crime involving the brutal attack on two women.
On the 22nd of July, a fifth suspect was arrested, and on the 23rd of July, a juvenile was also arrested in relation to the same crime.
The video of the heinous attack on the two women in Manipur, India
The video has garnered international attention and condemnation. The United States expressed shock and horror upon seeing the visuals of the attack. A senior Biden administration official stated that the US fully supports the Indian Government’s efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The US further called for a peaceful and inclusive resolution to the ongoing violence in Manipur, urging the authorities to address the humanitarian needs and ensure the safety of all groups, protecting their lives and property.
The incident that occurred on May 4 in Manipur’s Thoubal district is extremely distressing. According to reports, two Kuki women were subjected to a horrifying act of violence when they were paraded naked by a mob. Subsequently, they were gang-raped, adding to the gravity of the heinous crime.
The disturbing nature of the incident became widely known almost two months later when the video of the incident went viral on social media. The video’s circulation triggered a wave of anger and outrage across the country as people were appalled by the brutality and inhumanity shown in the attack.
In response to the incident and the viral video, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a sharp comment, expressing his condemnation and likely promising a swift and firm response to ensure justice for the victims and accountability for those responsible for the heinous act.
Such acts of violence are deeply troubling and require urgent attention from law enforcement and the justice system to bring the perpetrators to justice and provide support and assistance to the victims and their families.
The recent incident occurred shortly after clashes in Churachandpur, where the Kuki community had protested against a proposal to grant scheduled tribe status to the dominant Meitei community.
Since May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, ethnic violence has erupted in Manipur. Tragically, more than 160 people have lost their lives, and several others have been injured during the ongoing unrest.
Manipur’s population comprises different communities: Meitei’s account for approximately 53 percent of the population and primarily reside in the Imphal Valley, while the tribal population, including Nagas and Kukis, constitutes around 40 percent and mainly resides in the hill districts.
In the United States, the small Manipuri diaspora has raised its voice, calling for an immediate end to the violence in the state. They have also urged the imposition of President’s rule, viewing it as crucial to restore law and order in Manipur.
On May 3, 2023, ethnic violence erupted in Manipur, a northeastern state in India, involving clashes between the Meitei people residing in the Imphal Valley and the Kuki tribal community from the surrounding hills. As of July 4, the violence has resulted in the death of 142 people, with over 300 wounded, and approximately 54,488 people have been displaced.
On April 14, 2023, the Manipur High Court issued an order in response to a writ petition filed by the Metei Tribe Union. The order mandated the state government to recommend Scheduled Tribe status for the Meitei community residing in the valley.
However, S.C. later criticized the Manipur High Court, stating that its decision was factually erroneous. This criticism implies that there might have been errors or misinterpretations in the High Court’s decision regarding the recommendation for Scheduled Tribe status to the Meitei community.
The High Court’s order had significant consequences
As it led to mass rallies organized by the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur in the hill districts. During one of these rallies, clashes occurred between the demonstrators and a group of people in a region bordering the Bishnupur district. The clashes escalated to the point of house burning, exacerbating tensions and contributing to the outbreak of ethnic violence in Manipur.
The issue of granting Scheduled Tribe status can be a sensitive and contentious matter, particularly in regions where different ethnic communities reside. The aftermath of the High Court’s order highlights the complexities and challenges in addressing such issues to ensure inclusivity and harmony among various communities in the state.
The Kuki people
Predominantly residing in the hill regions around the capital valley, have faced challenges concerning Indigenous land rights concerns, especially related to forest surveys aimed at stopping poppy cultivation. Additionally, the influx of refugees from Myanmar following the military coup in 2021, particularly from the Sagaing region, has contributed to insecurity among the Meitei Indigenous community. Women and children have been disproportionately affected by the violence, while those involved in firearms, drugs, and politics are seen as the key decision-makers in the conflict, exploiting the identities of various ethnic communities to advance their agendas.
Amidst mounting concerns over accounts of partisan killings by security forces and allegations of the police favoring the Meitei community, a comprehensive approach is being taken to address the situation. To ensure a thorough investigation into the violence, a panel led by a retired Chief Justice has been appointed. This panel will delve into the incidents and examine the alleged involvement of security forces, seeking to uncover the truth behind these troubling events.
Furthermore, in an effort to promote peace
A committee comprising members of civil society and headed by the Governor and security advisor Kuldeep Singh will be established. This peace committee aims to foster open communication and understanding among the affected communities to work toward lasting solutions and reconciliation.
Recognizing the need for an unbiased investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will step in to conduct a neutral inquiry into six specific cases related to the conspiracy behind the violence. By entrusting the CBI with this task, the authorities hope to identify the root causes behind the unrest and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
These measures reflect the government’s commitment to addressing the complex challenges posed by the violence, ensuring transparency, justice, and a path toward peaceful coexistence for all communities involved.