Manipur: Mob burns suspect's house over naked women video

Friday, 21 July 2023 (18:24 IST)
After four men were arrested over the apparent rape of two women in India's Manipur, a group of female protesters burned a house belonging to one of the suspects, police said on Friday.
"Local women pelted stones and burnt some parts of the house belonging to the prime accused in a village," police representative Hemant Pandey was quoted as saying in Manipur's capital Imphal.
"We request women to protest peacefully as there is intense unease. We understand their rage," he said.
Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers in India's parliament in New Delhi shouted slogans demanding a halt on all other business in favor of a debate on the Manipur violence, which they say should be opened by a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ruling bloc rejected this demand and the lower house of the assembly has been adjourned by Monday.
Ethnic violence in Manipur first broke out in early May, pitting the majority community, Hindu Meiteis, against Christian Kuki and Naga tribes in a dispute over tribal status and privileges.
The conflict has so far claimed some 130 lives. The video, which showed two Kuki women who were apparently dragged into a field, gang-raped, and paraded naked on the street by a mob, was also recorded in May but only garnered nationwide attention this week due to a government-imposed internet shutdown.
Suspects could face death penalty
Four suspects were arrested mere days after videos of the incident went viral on social media, drawing mass condemnation in the country. The incident, however, was filed with the police much sooner.
Several journalists and politicians in India have questioned Manipur's state government and police authorities as to why action was taken only after the incident came to light in the rest of the nation. 
"We want to know why police failed to take swift action when they knew that women were raped and paraded naked in Manipur," said Radhika Burman, a student in the eastern city of Kolkata.
Manipur's Chief Minister N. Biren Singh tweeted that a thorough investigation was underway.
"We will ensure strict action is taken against all the perpetrators, including considering the possibility of capital punishment," he added.
In India, the death penalty is rarely applied. 
Modi breaks months of silence
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the crimes calling them "deeply concerning" and "shameful." 
Modi's words, however, came after months of silence. In a recent visit to France for its national day celebrations, the European Parliament urged Modi to protect India's minorities and take action to quell the violence in Manipur.
In a report to the court in June, the civil society group Manipur Tribal Forum (MTF) outlined how many gruesome acts of violence, including rape and beheading, had not been investigated by state authorities.
Even now, the details of the case remain contested. In the police complaint filed initially, the women alleged that the mob sized them from police custody before assaulting them, according to The Indian Express.
Singh, however, denied this allegation and called it false, the paper reported.
In a separate interview with The Print in June, one of the two women shown in the video alleged that they had tried to escape from the mob in a police vehicle during the ordeal. The police personnel, however, left the vehicle and the women to the mob. These allegations question the role of the protectionary authority in Manipur.

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