KANGPOKPI, Manipur(India) An appalling video from the Indian state of Manipur has gone viral, sparking widespread outrage across the country. The distressing 26-second clip captures a group of men, some seemingly as young as 15, parading and assaulting two women from the ethnic Kuki-Zo tribe. The victims are shown stripped naked, as the men grope and sexually attack them while leading them towards an empty field. The video has shocked the nation and raised serious concerns about the safety and well-being of women in the region.
In the wake of deadly ethnic riots between the Meitei and Kuki-Zo tribes in Manipur, India’s northeast state, a deeply disturbing incident has come to light. A viral video showing men parading and assaulting two women from the Kuki-Zo tribe has caused outrage in the country. According to the first information report (FIR) filed by the survivors, one of the women, aged 21, was subjected to a gang rape during the appalling incident, while the other woman was 42 years old.
The incident occurred on May 4, a day after the ethnic clashes erupted between the mainly Hindu Meitei and predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribes. Manipur, governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been gripped by unrest as at least 130 people, mostly from the Kuki-Zo community, lost their lives, and over 50,000 people were displaced in the clashes. The violence erupted over a proposal to extend reservation in government jobs and education to the Meiteis, who constitute more than half of Manipur’s 3.5 million population and primarily reside in the capital Imphal and the surrounding valley. The Kuki-Zo and Naga tribes, on the other hand, inhabit the neighboring hill districts.
The disturbing video showing the assault on two women in Manipur has finally surfaced after over two months, during which the region was subjected to an internet ban since May 3. This restriction has faced widespread criticism from human rights activists across India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his two-month silence on the Manipur violence, expressing deep grief and anger over the incident. Speaking ahead of a parliamentary session, where opposition members demanded a statement from Modi on the situation in Manipur, he stated that any civilized society should be ashamed of such brutal acts.
Meanwhile, India’s Supreme Court has also taken note of the viral video and expressed deep concern. The court has asked both the state and federal governments to provide information on the actions taken to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud emphasized that such incidents are unacceptable in a constitutional democracy.
Sachidananda Soibam, the superintendent of police in Manipur’s Thoubal district, where the FIR regarding the May 4 incident was filed, revealed to Al Jazeera that they received the viral video only on Wednesday.
“Thanks to the video, we are now actively working on identifying the miscreants,” he stated.
On Thursday, authorities apprehended a 32-year-old Meitei man, identified as Khuirem Herodas, as one of the suspects involved in the assault on the two women.
In response to the arrest, the state’s Chief Minister N Biren Singh, who is also a Meitei, tweeted that a comprehensive investigation is underway, and they are determined to take strict action against all perpetrators, including considering the possibility of capital punishment.
Kuki-Zo families in Manipur are expressing discontent over the authorities’ response, considering it too little, too late, and have accused both the state and central governments of showing indifference towards their plight.
According to the families of the two survivors, they lodged a complaint with the police on May 18, about the incident that occurred on May 4. However, it took more than a month for the case to be transferred to the police station with jurisdiction over the crime scene.
Furthermore, the residents claim that no significant action was taken until the video of the incident went viral on Wednesday. It was only after the video’s circulation that authorities began to act on the matter.
The emergence of the video in India has triggered widespread outrage and drawn attention to the heinous crime. The incident has shed light on the state’s failure to provide comfort and support to the survivors, ultimately prompting Prime Minister Modi to address the ethnic violence gripping Manipur.
In order to restore confidence in Manipur, particularly among the minority Kuki community, there is mounting pressure on the authorities to take prompt action against the perpetrators and ensure justice for the women. Many people across the country believe that such atrocities should have no place in modern India. The incident has ignited a call for accountability and swift measures to address the grave injustice.