New Delhi/Imphal: Both the women in the video showing two women from Manipur’s Kuki community being paraded naked and sexually assaulted – the subsequent FIR says one of them was gang-raped – have told The Wire that Manipur Police had been present at the scene of the crime but did not help them.
The harrowing incident took place on May 4 in Kangpokpi. At that point, ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities had just begun in the state.
One of the survivors in the video said, “Manipur’s Police were present there, but they didn’t help us.”
The second survivor said that she saw four policemen sitting in the car and looking at the violence. “They didn’t do anything to help us,” she said. This survivor’s father and brother were killed in this mob attack.
Calls to the Saikul police station, made by The Wire, have failed to connect. This report will be updated if police responds to these claims.
The first survivor said that residents of the B. Phainom village in Kangpokpi received information from their Meitei neighbours that Meitei mobs were making their way to the village. Kuki villagers knew they must run out of the village, but the families of the two women seen in the video were unable to and were captured by the mob.
The complaint to police, which The Wire has seen, claims that the Meitei mob were armed with sophisticated weapons.
“I was thinking about the other survivor…but the attackers were not thinking of anything. They took us to a bushy area. Three people held me and one gave out a call, “Those who want to torture them, please come’,” the first survivor said.
The first survivor said that there were people who helped them among Meitei community members too. “Some of them asked us to take off our clothes, but there were also people who wanted to save us,” she said.
Manipur is under an internet shutdown since May 3 – a fact that could explain the delay in this video making its way to Twitter.
On July 19, Manipur Police tweeted on the matter, after what many have pointed out was “77 days since the incident.”
The Manipur Police tweeted:
“All out effort to arrest culprits as regard to the viral video of 02 (two) women paraded naked:
“As regard to the viral video of 02 (two) women paraded naked by unknown armed miscreants on 4th May, 2023, a case of abduction, gangrape and murder etc, was registered at Nongpok Sekmai PS (Thoubal District) against unknown armed miscreants and the investigation has been started. The State Police is making all-out effort to arrest the culprits at the earliest.”
No one has yet been arrested in the matter.
Journalist Vasudha Venugopal has tweeted based on inputs from government sources that the Union government is “likely to initiate action against Twitter as showing videos that could lead to problems in law and order”.
“IT ministry is now working across platforms to see that the video is not being spread,” her tweet said.
Gracy, a member of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), met the two survivors.
“My heart is heavy. I have heard their stories, I met them, I talked to them, but seeing the video has made my heart newly heavy. All these stories of women and children being tortured, and not even a single word from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi?” she asked.
Since past two months, members of the Kuki community have claimed that the Manipur Police has favoured the Meitei community.
Article was first published by The Wire and written by Yaqut Ali and Lhingneichong Haokip