Modi breaks silence on Manipur after purported video of women being paraded naked – ‘The country is ashamed’

New Delhi: Breaking his silence on the Manipur crisis for the first time since ethnic clashes broke out in the northeastern state in May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said “what happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven”.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came a day after a video purportedly showing two women being paraded naked by a group of men in Manipur went viral on social media on Wednesday. The two women seen in the video were also allegedly raped in a field. While the video went viral on social media on Wednesday, the alleged incident reportedly happened earlier.

“I want to assure my countrymen that no guilty will be spared. In his address before the monsoon session of Parliament, PM Modi said, what happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven.

He further said, “The law with all its might will take one step after another. I assure the countrymen that not a single culprit will be spared.

The Prime Minister further said that his heart was filled with “pain and anger” before arriving at Parliament – the temple of democracy.

“The incident that has come to light in Manipur is a shameful incident for any civilized society. The whole country has been embarrassed by this…all 140 crore people are feeling ashamed. I appeal to all Chief Ministers across the country to strengthen laws to take strong action against crime, especially against our mothers and daughters,” PM Modi said.

Ethnic clashes broke out between the tribal Kuki and non-tribal Meitei communities of Manipur on 3 May following a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ taken out to protest the demand for inclusion of the Meitei people in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, which was described as an attempt to Securing the rights and constitutional safeguards of the ethnic Kuki and their sub-tribes. According to police figures, the violence has so far claimed over 157 lives and displaced over 50,000 people.

Despite growing clamor from the opposition to speak to the Prime Minister on the situation, Modi has so far remained silent on the issue. He didn’t even mention it in his Mann Ki Baat address last month.

Read also: ‘Shooting, bombs every night’ – Muslim village trapped between Meiteis and Kukis seeks peace

‘Maintaining law and order, respecting women should be kept above any political debate’

ThePrint had earlier also said informed of How sexual violence against women was the least discussed aspect of the ongoing violence in Manipur.

Those who were allegedly raped during the violence included a 40-year-old Kuki woman and a teenage girl who were dragged to a paddy field in Kangpokpi district on 4 May and killed by a group of inebriated men Allegedly gang raped, some of whom were as young as 15 years old.

ThePrint had earlier spoken to survivors and volunteers in relief camps to learn about at least six alleged cases of rape, including that of a 40-year-old and a teenager from Kangpokpi, none of whom filed a police complaint at the time.

Hours after a purported video of the two women went viral on Wednesday, Manipur CM N. Biren Singh, who is facing criticism for the way he has dealt with caste violence, had said Said ThePrint says that the government had taken suo motu cognizance of the video and ordered an inquiry into the matter. He had said that the state government would make every effort to ensure that those who allegedly raped the two women seen in the video were given death penalty.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani also tweeted that she has spoken to the Manipur CM regarding the purported video of the two women and he has assured her of prompt action.

On his part, the Prime Minister on Thursday said that no “rapist will be spared” and urged everyone to rise above politics for the safety of women. He also urged all the Chief Ministers to further strengthen the law and order in their states.

“Whether it is Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Manipur or any other part of the country, maintaining law and order and respecting women should be kept above any political debate,” Modi said.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Read also: At Imphal school, Meitei children who fled violence survive with a little help from new friends