Women paraded naked in Manipur were forcibly taken away from police custody by mob

A video showing two women from the Kuki-Zomi community being paraded naked by a mob of men and being sexually assaulted began doing the rounds on Wednesday, bringing to light an incident which took place in Manipur more than two months ago, 158/">when violence first started.

A senior police official confirmed that the incident had taken place on May 4 in Thoubal district and that a zero FIR had been registered in the matter on May 18 in Kangpokpi district. However, while the FIR, on charges including abduction, gangrape and murder against “unknown armed miscreants”, was registered two months ago, there have not been any arrests so far.

The two women, one in her 20s and the other in her 40s, are from the Kuki-Zomi dominated hill district of Kangpokpi. In the video, they can be seen being made to walk naked down a road and towards a field by a mob of men. Some of the men can be seen dragging the two women towards a field and forcibly groping them.

While the incident had taken place in the Meitei-dominated valley district of Thoubal, the victims later filed a complaint at a police station in Kangpokpi district where a zero FIR was registered and the case forwarded to the police station concerned in Thoubal.

According to their complaint, while the video shows only two women, there was another woman in her 50s who was also forced to take off her clothes by the mob. The complaint also alleges that the younger woman was “brutally gang raped in the broad daylight”.

In their complaint, the victims have said that five members of the village – the three women and two relates of the youngest – had fled towards the forest after a “group of 800-1,000 persons carrying sophisticated weapons like AK Rifles, SLR, INSAS and .303 Rifles” entered their village and began looting and burning it on May 4 afternoon, a day after violence had erupted in the state on May 3.

They said that they were later rescued by the police and 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 stated that the youngest woman’s father was killed on the spot and that “all three women were physically forced to remove their clothes and were stripped naked in front of the mob”, after which they alleged that the youngest was raped in front of the others. They also alleged that her brother was killed when trying to help her.

The three women were later able to escape through the adjoining hill district of Tengnoupal and are currently in relief camps.

In response to the release of the video, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum – a conglomerate of registered tribes in Churachandpur – demanded that the state and central governments, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and National Commission for Women take cognizance of the incident and take action against the perpetrators.