A delegation from the (NCW) has arrived in Manipur with the purpose of meeting survivors of sexual assault from both communities. The visit comes in response to previous allegations of inaction in dealing with the violence. The state has been grappling with ethnic tensions since May 3, leading to a tragic toll of over 160 deaths and numerous cases of assault, rape, and harassment.
On Tuesday, a team representing the National Commission for Women (NCW) arrived in Manipur with the objective of meeting survivors of sexual assault from both communities, amidst ongoing sporadic violence in the state.
This development occurred after NCW chief Rekha Sharma, on July 21, stated that no delegation had been sent to the violence-affected state to meet women survivors of sexual assault.
Activists had previously informed the NCW about multiple instances of rape, including the horrific incident captured in a viral video showing two women being assaulted publicly in Manipur. They also reported incidents of kidnapping, lynching, immolation, and murders in the strife-torn state.
In a letter written to Rekha Sharma on June 12 by two activists who had visited the state and the North American Manipur Tribal Association, they highlighted the “numbing silence” and under-reporting of sexual and gender-based violence during the conflict. The letter claimed that Kuki-Zomi women were disproportionately experiencing rapes, sexual assaults, and murders by “Meitei vigilante mobs.”
The May 4 incident, wherein two women in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district were disrobed, paraded naked, beaten, and allegedly gang-raped by a mob, was specifically addressed in the letter. The activists accused the state police commandos of being mere spectators, and the mobs of remaining silent witnesses to the lynchings and torching of homes.
Following the viral video of the May 4 incident on July 19, the NCW chief initiated suo-motu cognizance and claimed that the women’s panel had reached out to Manipur authorities, but did not receive any response.
In their letter, the activists urged Rekha Sharma to take action in response to six incidents of violence against women from the Kuki tribe, which they listed based on testimonies from victims and survivors of physical and sexual assaults and rapes shared with them.
The other incidents listed in the appeal include alleged harassment and abuse of students and staff from Kuki-Zomi communities at a university on May 3, harassment of two young women at an institute on May 4, alleged rape and murder of two young women on May 5, and the murder of a 45-year-old woman and sexual assault of an 18-year-old girl on May 15.