Outside Parliament, PM breaks silence on Manipur sexual assault, promises stringent punishment for guilty

This was the PM’s first comment on Manipur violence, though he only responded to the sexual assault of the two women, and did not comment on the wider situation, as demanded by the Opposition

July 20, 2023 11:25 am | Updated 08:42 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media on the first day of Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media on the first day of Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Thursday, July 20, 2023. | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Expressing “anguish and anger” at the sexual assault of two women in Manipur documented in a viral video, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday vowed that the guilty would not be spared and that the law would act with its “full might”.

“What has happened in Manipur cannot be forgiven,” he said, during his customary remarks at the start of the monsoon session of Parliament. He was responding to the stark footage of two women being stripped and paraded naked in Manipur’s Thoubal district; however, he did not respond to the new INDIA coalition‘s demand that he give a comprehensive statement on the situation in the State, which has seen violent ethnic clashes since early May.

‘Matter of shame’

“My heart is filled with anger and anguish. The incident in Manipur is a matter of shame to any civilised society. Those who have committed this crime will be punished, but this incident has made 140 crore Indians hang their heads in shame,” he said, standing before the portico of Parliament House, flanked by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, his junior Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, and the Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh. 

Manipur violence LIVE updates

Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh also mentioned

“I appeal to all Chief Ministers, whether Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh or Manipur, that they strengthen all law enforcement for the protection of women. In any corner of this country, under any party’s government in any State, law and order is prioritised, and so is the honour and safety of women. I assure the people that those who have perpetrated this crime will be punished and those who do such violence to our Manipuri daughters will never be forgiven,” Mr. Modi said. 

The PM’s reference to Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are significant, as the BJP — in the Opposition in these States — has been raising issues related to crimes against women there.

The viral video of two women being stripped and paraded naked, one of whom was allegedly gangraped, was condemned across the board by Opposition parties, who are attempting during this session to pin down the Central government on accountability with regards to the overall situation in Manipur. A number of Opposition MPs in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had already given notice for moving an adjournment motion on Manipur, and had specifically demanded a statement from the Prime Minister in Parliament.

Mr. Modi’s remarks addressing the violent incident were his first comment on what has been going on in the State. Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, who has escaped sacking so far, may now find the going tough. 

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