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8th October, 2023: A new depth of human indecency has been touched as Meitei radicals have formed a Committee aimed at justifying the gross violation of human rights where two Zo tribal women were sexually assaulted and paraded naked by a mob of Meitei men. The incident, which sent shockwaves across the nation and beyond in July, continues to unravel with the radical Meitei factions campaigning for the release and even rewarding of the arrested perpetrators.
The horrifying event had prompted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn the act outside the Parliament House, breaking his silence on the ongoing ethnic unrest in Manipur. Despite the national and international outcry, Meitei radical groups, including the Meira Paibis, have bizarrely attempted to justify the incident. A recent protest organized by a mob of Meira Paibis demanded video proof of the assault, refusing to acknowledge the crime. A spokesperson for Meira Paibi even dismissed the sexual attack on the tribal women by referring to the situation as a ‘war,’ implying a warped justification for such heinous acts in a warlike scenario.
The radicals have now escalated their campaign by establishing a so-called Joint Action Committee (JAC) Against Viral Video Case. In a shocking press conference held yesterday, the Committee spokesperson, a woman herself, made sweeping claims labeling the residents of B. Phainom village as ‘Kuki Narco-Terrorists’. She recounted the mob’s assault on the tribal women as an act of vengeance for alleged attacks on Meiteis in Hill districts, although various fact-finding teams have affirmed based on accurate data and ground evidence that no Meitei was harmed or killed in the initial two weeks of ethnic violence. The allegations against the tribal communities are seen as part of a larger narrative to cover up a pre-planned, state-sponsored pogrom against Zo ethnic tribes in Valley districts.
The JAC spokesperson continued on a chilling note praising the Meitei assailants for their ‘humanity’ in not killing the women, claiming that these rapists have always been ‘good’ and ‘well-behaved’ youths. The outrageous demand for awarding the perpetrators and for the government to ensure the trial remains in Manipur, ostensibly expecting a favorable outcome from the Court in Imphal, highlights the deep-rooted communal mentality and the blatant disregard for justice.
The radical factions’ call for the unconditional release of the rapists poses a severe threat to the rule of law, human rights, and the already tenuous communal harmony in Manipur. The grotesque endeavor to justify and glorify sexual assault and humiliation showcases a disturbing escalation in the ongoing ethnic conflict. It reflects a horrifying moral degradation where certain factions are willing to go to any extent to uphold their radical and divisive ideologies, even at the cost of human dignity and justice.
The appalling stance of the JAC and Meira Paibis not only undermines the gravity of sexual violence but also poses a formidable challenge to restoring peace and justice in the ethnically charged atmosphere of Manipur. The episode also underscores the dire need for intervention from central authorities to uphold justice, protect human rights, and foster communal harmony in the strife-torn state. The journey towards justice for the victims and for the countless others affected by the ethnic violence seems long and arduous, reflecting a grim reality of deep-seated communal discord that has plagued Manipur.