Another inhumane atrocity surfaces from Manipur

Paramilitary soldiers patrol past a vandalised church in Imphal, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, May 14, 2023.(Photo: Associated Press/Alamy)

Two more young Christian tribal women were victimized, brutalized, and killed on the same day as the horrifying incident on May 4 that saw tribal Christian women in Manipur sexually assaulted, gang raped, and paraded by a Hindu Meitei mob.

The victims, aged 21 and 24, whose identities have not been made public, worked at the Gamma car wash in the Konung Mamang area of Imphal East district, around 40 kilometres away from the scene of the prior horrific incident. According to a police complaint made by one of the victim's families, tragically, the two young women's commitment to work became the spark for their awful fate when they were attacked by a hostile mob on May 4.

According to eyewitness accounts, the two women at the car wash were violently attacked by a big group of men and some women. Surprisingly, it was claimed that the ladies in the crowd provoked the men into taking the victims into a room where they were sexually assaulted.

Eyewitnesses reported that the ladies were being attacked by the mob when they were discovered hiding beneath a bed. The mob took the women to a room, turned the lights off and choked them with clothes to stifle their cries for help.

The victims' nightmare ordeal lasted around an hour and a half until they were mercilessly dumped next to a sawmill, their bodies mutilated, their clothing torn, and their blood spilled. And this is how police located them. They were then taken to the hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries.

The victims' identities were first kept a secret out of concern for the societal stigma attached to sexual assault. However, one victim's mother found the fortitude to submit a Zero FIR at the Saikul police station on May 16, driven by tenacity and the need for justice. The FIR was eventually forwarded to Porompat police station in Imphal East district and specifically stated the violent rape, torture, and death of the two women.

The victims' remains, which have not yet been returned to their families, are being housed in a mortuary at a hospital in the Imphal Valley. Tragically, because of the ongoing ethnic tensions in the state since May 3, the family is unable to attend the hospital. They are thus unable to carry out the last rituals and express their grief at their loved ones' passing.

Police sources told the media that no arrests have yet been made in relation to this horrific incident.

According to media sources, two activists and the North American Manipur Tribal Association have complained about this event to the National Commission for Women.

These heartbreaking horror stories are a part of a more extensive and terrible chain of incidents that have occurred in Manipur since May 3. Religious ethnic conflict there has resulted in the deaths of over 140 individuals and the displacement of over 70,000 people.

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