Police in violence-hit Indian state led women to mob which stripped and raped them, probe agency finds

Two tribal women in Manipur were led by the police to a violent mob of around 1,000 people that paraded them naked and gang-raped them in the violence-hit northeast Indian state, an investigation has found.

The incident, that occurred on 4 May last year during the early stages of the ongoing violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities in the state, came to light two months after its video began circulating on social media.

The viral footage led to widespread anger, prompting prime minister Narendra Modi to address the country in some of his first remarks since conflict broke out in Manipur.

Nearly 200 people have been killed and tens of thousands displaced in the state since the violent conflict between minority Kuki-Zo and majority Meitei communities broke out after some Kukis protested against demands from the predominantly Hindu Meitei community to be granted protected tribal status.

In a chargesheet filed in October last year, the federal probe agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), found that two women and a man fleeing the violence sat inside a police vehicle, seeking their help to drive them to safety. However, the police officials did not help, saying they did not have the keys to the vehicle, reported The Indian Express.

“They kept on begging the policemen repeatedly to help them and save a man being assaulted by the mob, but the ‘police did not help them’,” the CBI said in the chargesheet.

“The driver of the Gypsy (car) suddenly drove and stopped the vehicle near the violent mob of around 1,000 people, and the male victim again requested the police to start the vehicle, but he was asked to keep silent.

“After some time, one police personnel came and told his colleagues that the man had stopped breathing.”

The mob then pulled out a “male victim and two women” from inside the vehicle while policemen “left from the spot leaving victims alone with the mob”.

“They tore off the clothes of both the women victims and started thrashing a male victim.”

DGP Rajiv Singh told the outlet that “departmental action” has been taken against the police personnel.

According to the Press Trust of India, the CBI filed its chargesheet against six accused in the case and a report against a juvenile in conflict with the law.

"Investigation has established that the accused individuals, part of ethnic clashes between the Meiteis and Kukis, conspired with a large group of unidentified miscreants from the Meitei community to execute a series of preplanned criminal acts, including violence, arson, sexual assault, and murder with a clear intent," the chargesheet said.