A horrifying video that emerged on July 19, 2023, has sent shockwaves through India, exposing the brutal realities of religious and ethnic tensions in the state of Manipur.
The distressing footage depicts the gruesome assault on two Christian women from Manipur, who became victims of a frenzied mob’s violence.
As the nation grapples with the disturbing images, questions arise about the need to safeguard human rights and religious freedom and the delayed response from authorities in addressing this alarming issue.
The viral video captures the harrowing ordeal endured by two Christian women from Manipur. On May 4, 2023, the women were paraded naked while a mob of men molested and beat them mercilessly. Tragically, the younger woman, aged only 19, was brutally gang-raped by the enraged mob, which included members of the Meitei tribe. To add to the horror, four police officers reportedly stood by and watched as the frenzied attack unfolded, making no attempt to intervene.
In the video the Meitei tribal group can be heard shouting: “If you don’t take off your clothes, we’ll kill you.” The women are then publicly groped, slapped and punched. The women can be heard pleading for mercy as they continually sob and groan in anguish.
We share some of the footage here and warn you that some parts are quite graphic though we have blurred footage of the two women. In the background you can see the burning village that the women fled:
In a disturbing twist, the survivors have alleged that the police officers may have actively participated in or facilitated the heinous attack. There are claims that the officers led the women directly to the mob of 800 to 1000 men or were present during the assault. The tragic violence occurred after the women fled their village to hide in a forest after it had been razed to the ground by the Hindu Meitei. In search of safety, the women and three others encountered the police officers, who offered help but tragically led them into the hands of the violent mob.
While the mob gang-raped the youngest woman publicly, her brother and father struggled to protect her. In the ensuing violence the two men were killed by the frenzied mob.
The survivors have bravely spoken out about the police’s inaction, raising serious questions about the impartiality of law enforcement in the region.
The shocking incident took place amidst escalating ethnic clashes between the Meitei (Hindu) and Kuki (Christian) communities in Manipur. The tensions stemmed from a longstanding demand by the Meitei people for a Scheduled Tribe status under the Indian Constitution, which met with resistance from tribal communities, including the Kuki people.
The violence in Manipur erupted after a rally by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) on 3rd May in protest against the proposed inclusion of people belonging to the Meitei community in the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs). Though the leader of the protest was not Kuki, the Christian community was targeted with violence, a move many believe is fueled by religious intolerance. Closse to 60,000 people have been displaced because of the attacks, with estimates that over 300 churches and 1000’s of homes have been razed to the ground.
Criticism has been directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Manipur government for their delayed response to the incident. Only after the graphic video of the attack went viral did the Prime Minister address the issue, raising concerns about possible political motivations behind the belated reaction.
At the opening session of parliament on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Modi made his first comments about the conflict, he said:
“The entire country has been shamed”
“I want to assure the nation, no guilty [people] will be spared,”
“Action will be taken according to the law.
“What happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven.
“As I stand next to this temple of democracy, my heart is filled with pain and anger.”
The harrowing video has also compelled the Biren Singh Government to acknowledge the severity of violence in Manipur and launch an investigation. As of now, 4 arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
The chief justice of India, Dhananjaya Chandrachud, appeared to criticise the government for failing to bring the situation in Manipur under control. He said:
“I think it’s time that the government really steps in and takes action because this is simply unacceptable.”
“if the government does not act, the supreme court will step in.”
Amidst the turmoil, Christian leaders in Manipur have reported alarming attacks on churches within the Meitei heartland. The Archbishop of Imphal revealed that 249 churches belonging to Meitei Christians were destroyed within 36 hours of the start of the conflict between Meitei and Kuki communities. The timing and scale of the attacks have led to suspicions of pre-planned violence. Christian leaders have also questioned the role of security forces in preventing the destruction of religious institutions.
Read Archbishop of Imphal, Dominic Lumon’s report (here). The report depicts the onset of a genocide against Christians under the guise of ethnic tensions.
R Vanramchhuanga, the Mizoram BJP leader, has stepped down from his post as vice president of the state unit. In his resignation letter dated July 13, he strongly expressed his belief that the recent destruction of Christian churches in Manipur was carried out with the “support of both state and central authorities”. Vanramchhuanga stated that he made this decision in order to “protest against the act of criminal injustice” towards Christians and Christianity. Read more (here).
Since the attacks on the Christian community both sides have set up militias to protect their communities. Some leaders in the Christian Kuki Tribe are now calling for the creation of a separate state.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for British Asian Christian Association, said:
“The shocking video depicting the violence against Christian women in Manipur has laid bare the urgent need to address religious and ethnic tensions in the state.
“The delayed response from authorities has raised suspicions of political motives behind their actions.
“India must prioritize the protection of human rights and religious freedom for all citizens, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.
“An impartial and thorough investigation into the incident is essential to ensure justice for the survivors and to hold those responsible for these heinous acts accountable.
“The response by Indian Authorities must be scrutinized and action taken to eradicate corruption and bigotry.”
“Only through collective efforts to promote tolerance, inclusivity, and respect can India move forward as a united nation, free from the scourge of religious violence and discrimination.”
British Asian Christian Association officers are sending a team to meet with the Kuki tribe [Christians of Manipur] to film and write a report on their current situation. Please keep this whole situation in your prayers.
We are opening an appeal that will offer assistance to the beleagured Christians of Manipur. This could include medical treatment, legal support, temporary homes or food support as needed. If you would like to contribute to this relief programme you can donate (here). Please reference Aid for Manipur.