A video of two women from the Kuki-Zomi community being paraded naked in violence-hit Manipur has shocked the nation, with the Supreme Court calling it a ‘grossest of Constitutional and human rights violation’. In the video, shot on May 4, two tribal women can be seen being made to walk naked down a road by an agitated mob in the Senapati district.
The Manipur Police has arrested one of the main accused who was seen in the video, which surfaced on Wednesday. Talking tough, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said he will ensure strict action is taken against all the perpetrators, including considering the possibility of capital punishment.
While the state has promised to take tough action against the culprits, one of the victims has claimed that she and other women had been “left to the mob by the police”. A police complaint was filed on May 18. In the complaint, the victims had alleged that the younger woman, who is in her 20s, was “brutally gang raped in broad daylight”, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.
In the complaint, they said that they had fled to a forest for shelter after their village in Kangpokpi district was attacked by a mob and that they were later rescued by the Thoubal police. They were being taken to the police station, but were stopped on the way by a mob and seized from police custody around two kilometres away from the police station, they said as per the report.
However, the younger woman claims that the police were there with the mob which was attacking their village, and that the cops left them on the road with the mob. “The police picked us up from near home, and took us a little away from the village, and left us on the road with the mob. We were given to them by police,” she was quoted as saying by IE.
The victims in their complaint had said that there were five of them who were there together including the two women seen in the video. Another woman in her 50s was also allegedly stripped, and the father and brother of the youngest woman, who they alleged were killed by the mob, the report said. “After all the men were killed, and the mob did what they did, we were just left there and we escaped,” she said.
Manipur plunged into crisis in the first week of May after clashes erupted between the majority Meiteis and tribal Kukis. More than 150 people have lost their lives, and several injured since violence broke out in the state on May 3, when a tribal 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 in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.