Manipur state, India: Shocking video emerges showing sexual assault against two women amidst ongoing violence



A graphic video emerged on social media Wednesday from Manipur amidst ongoing ethnic violence in the northeastern Indian state.

The video, which is going viral on social media, depicts an incident from May 4, according to the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) showing two women being forced to walk naked through a crowd of fully clothed men.

The distressing video, that has been seen by CNN, shows the terrified victims surrounded by a mob of men, many brandishing long canes or sticks as weapons.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the situation in the state for the first time on Thursday, saying ahead of the start of the Monsoon session of Parliament: “My heart is filled with grief and anger. The incident in Manipur is shameful for any civil society.”

“What happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven,” Modi continued, adding the “law will take its course with all its might.”

Protesters hold placards during a demonstration over sexual violence against women in Manipur, in Guwahati on Thursday. CNN has blurred a portion of this photograph that showed graphic imagery.

The Upper House of Parliament was adjourned minutes into reconvening for the Monsoon session after opposition MPs sparked an outcry over the refusal to discuss the issue of Manipur.

The ITLF issued a statement on Wednesday, writing: “A video which went viral today shows a large Meitei mob parading two Kuki-Zo tribal women naked toward a paddy field to be gang-raped.”

The statement continued saying the “despicable incident” took place in B. Phainom village in Kangpokpi district and “shows the men constantly molesting the helpless women, who cry and plead with their captors.”

In recent months, Manipur has grappled with violence. Clashes broke out in the state capital Imphal on May 3 after thousands of students, mostly from the Kuki tribe, took part in a rally against the majority Meitei ethnic community, who have petitioned for special tribal status. Among other things, tribal status would enable the Meitei to buy land and provide more opportunities for government jobs.

Over 100 people have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced since then.

The incident on May 4 occurred after the women’s village was burnt down and two men were beaten to death, according to the ITLF.

India’s main opposition Congress party has been a vehement critic towards Modi’s handling of the issue, with the party’s president Mallikarjun Kharge tweeting Thursday, before the opening of Parliament: “Humanity has died in Manipur. Modi Govt and the BJP has changed democracy and the rule of law into Mobocracy by destroying the delicate social fabric of the state.”

Tagging Modi, his tweet continued: “India will never forgive your silence. If there is any conscience or an iota of shame left in your government, then you should speak about Manipur in the Parliament and tell the nation on what happened, without blaming others for your dual incompetence – both at the Centre and the State.”

Soon after, the state’s chief minister, N. Biren Singh, tweeted that an arrest had been made.

“After taking a Suo-moto cognisance of the incident immediately after the video surfaced, the Manipur Police swung to action and made the first arrest this morning. A thorough investigation is currently underway and we will ensure strict action is taken against all the perpetrators, including considering the possibility of capital punishment. Let it be known, there is absolutely no place for such heinous acts in our society.”

Suo-moto cognisance is a procedure in Indian law allowing the court to take action in a case without a complaint being filed.

The Indian government has issued an order to Twitter and other social media platforms, instructing them not to share the viral video, a source familiar with the matter told CNN Thursday, adding it is “imperative for social media platforms to adhere to Indian laws as the matter is currently under investigation.”

Manipur Police also issued a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, writing “a case of abduction, gangrape (sic) and murder” was registered in Thoubal District “against unknown armed miscreants” and the investigation has been started.

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