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Woman tonsured for adultery as moral policing continues in Manipur

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Preventive measures urgently needed, says chairperson of Manipur State Women’s Commission

Notwithstanding the imposition of The Manipur (Protection) from Mob Violence Ordinance 2018 on November 19 last year and passing of the Adultery Bill in Parliament, the moral police in Manipur continue to behave like an extra-constitutional phenomenon with impunity.

On Sunday, members of the moral police abused a young woman with three children in Bishnupur district. The woman accused of adultery was tonsured and a garland of empty bottles hung around her neck. They had caught the woman red-handed with her paramour the previous night. The woman, accompanied by her 10-year-old daughter, had reportedly gone to a school to meet the man. Later, the activists held an impromptu shotgun wedding of the woman and her paramour.

The district police came to know of the incident only after video clippings went viral on social media. Bishnupur district SP Priyadarshini Laishram said, “Police swung into actions and nabbed 7 women and 4 men involved in the incident. Investigation is progressing and more arrests may be made”. She said that people should not forget that they cannot take the law into their hands. What moved one and all is how the traumatised daughter frantically tried to save her mother and covered her mother’s face from the cameras. Activists said that nobody from the nearby villages came forward to save the woman. The weeping girl was later taken away by her father.

Several instances

There have been several instances of mob crime in Manipur of late. Last month, a man killed a neighbour in Bishnupur district by beheading him over a land dispute. The villagers who torched all houses of the families of accused murderer announced that the brothers of the accused, their wives and children were driven out. The plea of the displaced persons, including boy and girl students, to allow them to return to their homes, fell on deaf ears. They said that they were not involved in the killing. A meeting of the villagers reaffirmed the stand and said that the killer and his immediate family members shall not be allowed in Kumbi areas of the district.

The displaced family members, who are poor farmers and daily wage earners, lost all their belongings as everything was burned to cinders when their houses were torched. The government has not done anything to mete out justice to these innocent victims.

A few years ago, a young homemaker at Tentha in Thoubal district went “missing”. The woman’s parents charged the husband with murdering the “estranged wife”. At the behest of the parents of the woman and other villagers, the husband and other family members were driven out. It so happened that a decomposed body of a woman was found sometime later and the mother of the missing wife promptly identified the body as that of her daughter. The mud and tin house of the husband and his parents were demolished and wood extracted from it was used in the cremation.

Police also believed that there was something fishy as there were a few loose ends. A few policemen shadowed the woman’s mother and later caught her with a child in Ukhrul district. She confessed that her daughter was not dead or missing. Her daughter was married to another man who was the biological father of the child.

Binolata Meinam, chairperson of the Manipur State Women’s Commission, said, “We are conducting legal awareness programmes among the women. However, preventive measures are urgently called for”. She also felt that the emerging Western culture was partly responsible for the reprehensible crimes against women in Manipur”.

But mob violence continues. Lawyers say that normal court functions are hampered on days when accused rapists and other high-profile murderers are produced in the Cheirap court complex in Imphal.

A body was left in the house of an advocate in Imphal when he defended an alleged killer. One prominent advocate was also assaulted inside the court complex for restraining the women who had vandalised the court buildings.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 9:31:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/woman-tonsured-for-adultery-as-moral-policing-continues-in-manipur/article29616989.ece

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