PM: Video of Mob Assaulting Women 'Shamed India'

Modi vows action after mob is filmed bringing two women to field
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2023 1:50 PM CDT
Video of Women's Assault Triggers Outrage in India
Members of the youth wing of India's Congress party shout slogans during a protest against deadly ethnic clashes near Parliament House in New Delhi, India, Thursday, July 20, 2023.   (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Disturbing footage out of India shows a group of men sexually assaulting two naked women being led to an empty field, where at least one of the women was gang-raped, according to a police complaint. Footage of the May 4 incident has triggered an uprising in the state of Manipur, where an ethnic conflict has been raging. The state's Meitei majority government began evicting Kuki-Zo tribes from "reserved" forest lands in February, as Al Jazeera reports. Violence erupted two months later when a court recommended that the mainly Hindu Meiteis be given the same tribal designation as the predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo and other minorities, a move that would open them up to employment and education quotas.

At least 130 people, most of them Kuki-Zo villagers, have died in the violence, while thousands have had to flee their homes, per Al Jazeera and Reuters. The Kuki-Zo say authorities have ignored their plight. Indeed, the mother of the 21-year-old rape victim says police officers watched the assault take place. She says the officers abandoned the family after a mob attacked their village in the Kangpokpi district and killed her husband. She says the mob then surrounded her daughter at the spot where her husband lay dead and later killed her son as he attempted to intervene. The families of the two women filed a police complaint two months ago, but say nothing was done until footage of the attack went viral Wednesday.

"I assure the nation, the law will take its course with all its might," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, per the BBC. He said the attack "shamed India," adding that "what happened with the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven." Police in Manipur's Thoubal district named a suspect as Khuirem Herodas, a 32-year-old Meitei man. "We will ensure strict action is taken against all the perpetrators," tweeted the state's Chief Minister Biren Singh, a Meitei. But "quite simply, CM Singh and his government do not inspire confidence in this fraught moment," per the Indian Express editorial board. Family members of two other Kuki-Zo women who were reportedly gang-raped and murdered in the state capital of Imphal last month tell Al Jazeera that police have not acted in that case. "Justice no longer exists for us," says one activist. (More India stories.)

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