India in Shock as Women are Made to March Naked in Troubled Manipur State

An incident in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur, where a mob was captured on video forcing two women to parade nude, has incited widespread shock and anger across the nation. The event occurred amid ongoing ethnic violence in the region.

Authorities have initiated a gang rape investigation and taken one man into custody, promising that more arrests will be made soon. In light of this disturbing event, discussions in Delhi’s parliamentary session were disrupted, as lawmakers pushed for an open debate.

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, broke his silence on the volatile Manipur situation by expressing profound disgrace over the incident and promising that no guilty party would escape justice. He emphasized that the unforgivable atrocities inflicted on Manipur’s women would be dealt with full force by the law.

Supreme Court Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, also voiced his deep concern over the assault, pressing the government to update the court on measures taken against the culprits, and warning of judicial intervention if required.

Manipur, an idyllic state on the border of Myanmar, has been embroiled in violent conflict for over two months, leading to the stark segregation of the majority Meitei and the Kuki tribal communities. The brutal clashes have caused at least 130 deaths and displaced 60,000 people. The assault victims are Kuki women, assaulted by Meitei men.

The assault was recorded on the 4th of May, but the video only drew nationwide attention when it began circulating widely on social media last Thursday. In response, the national government urged social media platforms to remove the graphic video.

The victims are seen in the footage being dragged, molested, and finally pushed into a field by a male mob. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) stated that these appalling acts were committed in a village in Kangpokpi district, against women of the Kuki-Zo tribal community, further claiming that the women had been gang raped.

Geeta Pandey, a BBC News correspondent in Delhi, highlighted how women’s bodies are often used as sites of conflict and punishment during riots and unrest, with rape and sexual assault employed as weapons of violence. She also criticized the delay in the arrests despite clear evidence in the video and the authorities’ inadequate support for the survivors. However, the widespread outrage following the video’s disclosure has turned a spotlight on the horrifying crime and the government’s failure to protect its citizens, finally pushing Mr. Modi to address the ethnic discord plaguing Manipur.

The ITLF has reported that the rape occurred after the destruction of the village and the beating to death of two men by the mob. However, a police complaint from a victim’s relative states that only one of the women was gang-raped and mentions a third woman who was forced to undress but was not filmed. A case of kidnapping, gang rape, and murder was registered in Thoubal district on the 4th of May.

Political figures from all sides have denounced the assault. Federal Minister Smriti Irani called the incident “downright inhuman”, while opposition leaders criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party for its failure to curb the violence. Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadhra and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal both expressed deep sorrow and revulsion at the acts of sexual violence against Manipur’s women.

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