Manipur: After Strip-Parade Horror, More Cases of Sexual Assault Surface

Despite the internet ban in the state, a number of instances of sex assault from different parts of Manipur are coming to light.

New Delhi: After the video of two Manipuri women who were paraded naked went viral, more cases of sexual assault against women in the violence-hit state are coming to light despite an internet ban in Manipur.

On May 4, two women from Kangpokpi who worked at a carwash were gang-raped at their workplace, dragged out, and left to die by a mob in Imphal, the state capital. The brutal incident happened on the very same day when the strip-parade horror unfolded 40 kms away in Thoubal district.

According to the Times of India, a male friend of the women, who saw an ambulance pick them up, reached the hospital the next day and was told they had succumbed to the injuries. “They dragged one of them inside, switched off the lights, and took turns raping her. Then they did the same to my other co-worker. They gagged both with clothes to prevent them from screaming,” he said, adding that women in that particular mob encouraged men to take the women into a room and assault them.

After about an hour and a half, the women were dragged out of the room and were dumped near a sawmill in the vicinity. “Their clothes were torn, their hair chopped off, and their bodies covered in blood,” the man, also a tribal, said.

He then conveyed the information to a cousin of one of the women who was hiding in a church to escape the clashes outside. It was only when the cousin in question was evacuated to Kangpokpi by Assam Rifles the families of the women got to know of what had happened to their daughters.

According to The Wire‘s earlier report – which is a detailed account by the fathers of the women – the women were aged 21 and 24. The report was published on May 29, giving a blow-by-blow account of how the crime unfolded and what happened next. One of the fathers had then said, “They might have been sexually abused too, though we can’t say it for sure yet.”

On the day of the incident, a suo muto FIR was registered at Porompat police station in Imphal East district. Later, the mother of one of the two women, after much hesitation, filed a zero FIR at Saikul police station on May 16. Zero FIRs are filed at any police station irrespective of jurisdiction. The FIR was then transferred to the Porompat police station on June 13.

A family member of one of the women told Indian Express that they still haven’t received any post-mortem report from the police although it’s been more than a month since the FIR was filed.

Woman set ablaze by a mob 

A photo of a charred body of a 45-year-old woman has recently surfaced online, following the video of strip-parade horror came to light.

According to The Hindu, Pastor Thianna Vaiphei Sauntak from Pheitaiching village said 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,” Sauntak said.

He 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.

“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.

First, a zero FIR was registered at Kangpokpi and was later transferred to Imphal East.

“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.

Meanwhile, 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.