18-year-old gang-raped in Manipur after women vigilantes hand her over to armed men

FIR says Meira Paibis women’s group handed her over to four armed men; after a brutal assault, gangrape, murder threats, she arrived at Bishnupur police station but did not trust Meitei police to take her home

July 22, 2023 10:11 pm | Updated July 23, 2023 07:20 am IST - NEW DELHI

Members of Meira Paibis, a vigilante group of Meitei women, march toward a site of a gunfight in Kangchup, near Imphal one June 22, 2023.

Members of Meira Paibis, a vigilante group of Meitei women, march toward a site of a gunfight in Kangchup, near Imphal one June 22, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP

An 18-year-old woman who was abducted, assaulted and gang-raped in Imphal East in Manipur on May 15, approached the police on July 21, after which a zero First Information Report (FIR) was registered, a police source said.

According to the FIR, the woman said that a group of women — whom she identified as Meira Paibis (women torchbearers), also known as ‘Mothers of Manipur’ — had handed her over to four armed men wearing black clothes. The Hindu has accessed a copy of the FIR. 

The rape survivor, who was admitted in a critical condition at a hospital in the neighbouring State of Nagaland, approached the Kangpokpi police on Friday, following which a zero FIR was registered under various sections of assault, attempt to murder, abduction, gangrape, and atrocities against Scheduled Tribes, against “unknown miscreants and Meira Paibis.” Zero FIRs are filed irrespective of jurisdiction. The case has been transferred to the Imphal East station, a police source said on Saturday.

Handed over by women

This is one of a number of cases of sexual violence that have been reported from the State since ethnic violence between the tribal Kuki and the majority Meitei communities erupted on May 3. 

The traumatised woman came forward to complain after a video went viral this week, showing three women who were stripped and paraded, one of them raped, in Thoubal on May 4.

The FIR states that, around 5 p.m. on May 15, four men abducted the woman in a purple colour car to Wangkhei Ayangpali where they punched and hit her. “Then they called Meira Paibis and several local men who took turns in slapping and punching me. Then I heard one of the ladies saying that we must call ‘Arambai Tengol’. Then 4 four arrived in black shirt with some logos on their back and all of them were carrying guns,” the FIR said.

Assault, murder threats

She added that two of the men were in their mid-30s, while two appeared to be in their 50s. She said that one of the woman among the mob gave clear instructions to the four men to kill her. The four men then shoved her in another car and drove away. “They continuously asked me random questions and no matter what I answered or tried to remain silent they would slap me and couple of times also hit me with the butt of their guns. Then we reached a place which was slightly on a hill top where they decided to kill me,” she said in the FIR.

The woman said that she had heard the men discuss plans to kill her, but one of them said that it could attract police action. She said she fell at the feet of the oldest among the four men and begged for her life. “I even promised them that I will never return to Imphal, just let me go; I want to meet my parents. Then they put me in car again and they drove me around to look for a better location to kill me. After driving around for a while, they stopped the car again in hilly top area. They dragged me out of the car and starting physically assaulting me by kicking, slapping, punching etc. One of the blows on my face with the butt of the gun was so hard that I blacked out for a while. My eyes opened when I felt drizzle of rain on my face,” she said.

Raped by three men

She said that when she was conscious, the men slapped her again. Three of the four men then took turns to rape her. “By this time my ears, face and head were bleeding really bad to the extent that my clothes and face were drenched in blood. Then there was this argument between the three men who raped me and the one who did not, that I should be killed… They said that if we let you go then you will go to police to file FIR but be rest assured if you go to police, we will find you and kill you. While they were arguing on whether to let me go or kill me; one of them was trying to turn the car around and by accident it hit me and I fell off the creek from that hilltop,” the FIR said. .

‘I don’t trust the police’

She said she hurtled down and landed on a road where she asked an autorickshaw for help. 

“Seeing me in that condition; drenched in blood the auto rickshaw driver took me to Bishnupur Police Station. He hid me under a pile of vegetables he was carrying. Upon arriving the police station, I heard them that the police who will drop me home are from the Meitei community. I begged the driver to drop me home i.e. New Lambulane area as I don’t trust the police. On May 16, I left Imphal around 4.30 am and came to Sapormeina. Thereafter, I went to Kangpokpi District Hospital for treatment but they referred me to Kohima Hospital as my condition was critical,” the FIR said. 

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