More cases of women being assaulted surface in Manipur

After the video of the Thoubal incident, a photo of a woman’s charred body is now in circulation; 10 Manipur legislators issue statement mentioning at least four other incidents of rape or murder

July 21, 2023 10:27 pm | Updated July 22, 2023 08:00 am IST - NEW DELHI

The house of one of the accused in Manipur sexual assault case is burnt down by miscreants in Kangpokpi district of Manipur on July 21, 2023.

The house of one of the accused in Manipur sexual assault case is burnt down by miscreants in Kangpokpi district of Manipur on July 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Two days after three women were disrobed and paraded naked, one of whom was raped, in Manipur’s Thoubal district, a 45-year-old woman was stripped and set ablaze in Imphal East on May 6. A photo of the charred body of the woman has now surfaced on social media.

The incidents are among a series of crimes committed against women since ethnic violence erupted in the State on May 3. After the video of the Thoubal incident went viral this week, despite an Internet ban that has been imposed in the State, four accused were arrested.

On Thursday, 10 Manipur legislators from the Kuki-Zo community, including seven from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), released a statement mentioning at least four other incidents where women belonging to their community were either raped or murdered since May 3.

Set ablaze by mob

Thianna Vaiphei Sauntak, a pastor at Pheitaiching village, told The Hindu that he had found the semi-charred body of the 45-year-old mother of two on May 7, a day after a large mob had attacked the village. He said he went there under army protection.

“The body was half burnt, she was naked. The body was taken away to a government hospital in Imphal, we do not know where it is,” Mr. Sauntak said.

The pastor recalled that armed men wearing black shirts had descended on the village on May 6. He claimed that Manipur Police commandos had accompanied the mob.

‘Killed, mutilated’

“While our houses were torched, most villagers were able to flee the scene. The woman, who used to live alone, could not run away and was caught by the mob. She was killed, her body was mutilated,” he said. He added that it was on his complaint that a zero First Information Report (FIR) was registered in Kangpokpi for rioting, murder, and mischief by fire. A police source said that the case had been transferred to Imphal East. Zero FIRs are filed irrespective of jurisdiction.

“We always expected the police to help us, instead they fired at us. The village volunteers also ran away, the woman was left behind. It is a horrible situation, I have never experienced anything like this before,” the pastor added.

Ethnic violence erupted between the Kuki and Meitei communities in Manipur on May 3. More than 140 people have been killed and over 54,000 people displaced so far.

Tortured by a mob

According to another zero FIR registered in Kangpokpi, two women were raped, tortured and murdered in Imphal East on May 4. The women were working at a car washing centre in Imphal East. The FIR, filed by the mother of one of the women and accessed by The Hindu, said that they had been tortured by a mob of around 100 to 200 persons at their rented house near Konung Mamang. In her complaint, the mother said that the bodies were yet to be recovered.

The zero FIR was transferred to Porompat police station on May 16. A case of assault or criminal force with an intent to outrage modesty, kidnapping or abduction for murder, wrongful concealing, rape and murder has been registered against “unknown miscreants.”

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