Manipur violence
The viral video of the May 4 incident renewed the national attention on Manipur, where violence broke out nearly three months ago, killing over 160 people since then, and injuring hundreds. File photo: PTI

Manipur women paraded naked before gang-rape; will Modi break his silence now, asks Oppn

A shocking video of two women being paraded naked before being sexually assaulted by several men in Manipur has the state on the boil with Opposition parties condemning the incident and calling for a discussion on the ethnic violence in the hill state during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament beginning Thursday (July 20).

The video dated May 4, which has triggered massive outrage on social media with users calling for severe punishment against the perpetrators, shows two women from one of the warring communities being paraded naked by a few men from the other side, officials in Imphal said on Wednesday. Some reports said, the women were gang-raped by several men after being paraded naked. The mob reportedly threatened to kill them if they don’t remove their clothes.

Also read: Monsoon session begins today: Manipur, Delhi ordinance to come under focus

The video was doing the rounds on the eve of a planned protest march announced by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) on Thursday to highlight their plight.

Police said a case of abduction, gangrape and murder has been registered at Nongpok Sekmai police station in Thoubal district against unknown armed miscreants. In a statement, they said an all-out effort is on to arrest the culprits at the earliest.

According to a spokesperson of ITLF, the “despicable scene, which happened on May 4 in Kangpokpi district, shows men constantly molesting the helpless women, who cry and plead with their captors. “The horrifying ordeal suffered by these innocent women is amplified by the perpetrators decision to share the video, which shows the identity of the victims, on social media.”

While condemning the “sickening act”, the spokesperson in a statement demanded that the central and state governments, National Commission for Women and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes take cognisance of the offence and bring the culprits before the law.

INDIA will not stay silent: Rahul Gandhi

Opposition leaders have condemned the incident, resolving to raise the issue in Parliament when it convenes on Thursday.

Holding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s responsible for the “anarchy” in the hill state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserted that “INDIA (the joint Opposition front) will not stay silent while the idea of India is being attacked,” in Manipur.

Also read: Manipur: Curfew relaxation removed in valley districts ahead of ‘Mothers Protest’ rally

“PM’s silence and inaction has led Manipur into anarchy. INDIA will not stay silent while the idea of India is being attacked in Manipur,” he said in a tweet. “We stand with the people of Manipur. Peace is the only way forward,” he added.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also reacted to the video, saying the pictures of “sexual violence against women” emerging from Manipur are heart-wrenching. “No amount of condemnation is enough for this horrific incident of violence against women. Women and children have to bear the maximum brunt of violence in the society,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. “We must all condemn the violence in one voice while furthering the efforts for peace in Manipur,” Priyanka said.

She also sought to know why the Centre and the prime minister have “turned a blind eye to the violent incidents in Manipur?”

“Do such pictures and violent incidents not disturb them?” she asked.

Mahila Congress chief Netta DSouza said, “Humanity has died a thousand deaths! If this BJP govt can’t stop women from being shamed and humiliated, from being paraded naked, it simply be dismissed.” What is stopping the Modi government from imposing the Presidents Rule in Manipur, she asked on Twitter.

Kejriwal urges Modi to intervene in Manipur crisis

AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said such a “shameful” and “heinous act” cannot be tolerated in Indian society, while urging Prime Minister Modi to turn his attention towards Manipur.

“The situation in Manipur is becoming so worrying. I appeal to the Prime Minister to pay attention to the situation in Manipur. Please take strict action against the culprits seen in the video of this incident. There should not be any place for people with such criminal tendency in India,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

Also read: UCC, Manipur violence spell trouble for NDA ahead of Parliament session

In a statement, the AAP said, “The Aam Aadmi Party has come across a viral video purportedly from Manipur where two women are paraded naked and are constantly molested by their captors. It has been brought to our notice that the video was shot on May 4 in Kangpokpi district in B Phainom Village where both the women were gang-raped after the entire village was burnt down. The AAP condemns this horrifying and continued ordeal of the helpless people of Manipur,” it added.

“The inaction of the state and the Central government is painful for all the citizens of the country. We again request the intervention of the Prime Minister in Manipur. Turning a blind eye to the problem will not make it go away,” the party said.  “The AAP is ready and willing to assist in any manner as the central government may deem fit,” it added.

The Kejriwal-led party also asked all citizens not to aggravate the plight and humiliation of the helpless women and speak up against the sickening act without sharing the gruesome video.

TMC to raise issue in Parliament

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has pledged to raise the Manipur issue in the Parliament.

A five-member delegation of TMC MPs visited two relief camps each in Churachandpur, one of the most affected districts, and Imphal Valley. The leaders also called on Governor Anusuiya Ukiye at the Raj Bhavan. “People told us about their pain. The relief materials provided to the relief camps in both hills areas and the valley are not sufficient. Those camps should get sufficient relief,” TMC Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee told reporters.

Condemning the May 4 video, the party urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his 78-day silence and stand by the people of Manipur.

“Blood-curdling visuals have emerged from Manipur where two women… were paraded naked & sexually assaulted by a large group of men. What is stopping the Centre from dispatching fact-finding teams & commissions to Manipur? Why is the WCD Minister still silent on the matter?” the party tweeted.

Also read: Manipur: 1 killed as armed assailants attack village defence force in Kangpokpi district

The TMC also attacked the saffron party saying “All claims of Nari Shakti by the BJP ring hollow if we cannot ensure justice for the women of Manipur.”

More than 150 people have lost their lives, and several injured since ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3, when a Tribal Solidarity March was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.

(With inputs from agencies)

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