President of India Urged to Intervene and Restore Peace in Manipur, Support Violated Kuki-Zo Women
New Delhi: In an urgent appeal to the Hon’ble President of India, Draupadi Murmu, numerous organisations, activists, and citizens from across India associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and other progressive groups have sought immediate intervention and support in the restoration of peace and justice in strife-torn Manipur. The appeal highlights the grave humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the state for almost three months, leading to ethnic clashes and the violation of Kuki-Zo women.
The crisis in Manipur began as a popular resistance against the proposal to include non- Scheduled Tribe (STs) (Meiteis) in the Scheduled Tribes list, which escalated into a state-wide conflict involving the Meitei and Kuki communities. The violence has resulted in at least 150 deaths, destroyed entire villages, and displaced tens of thousands of people, inflicting untold suffering upon both communities.
However, what has further shocked the nation and garnered widespread attention is a viral video showing the horrific incident of three Kuki-Zo tribal women being paraded naked and sexually assaulted in Kangpokpi district on May 4. The mob responsible for this heinous act also killed two male members of the family. Despite the video being available for two months, the first arrest in connection to the case was made only after national outrage, raising concerns about the delayed action and accountability.
According to the Chief Minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, the incident captured in the viral video is just one of more than a hundred similar cases, indicating the magnitude of the problem. This has prompted the urgent need for a comprehensive inquiry to ensure due legal process and hold the perpetrators and authorities accountable in all such instances. The NAPM has emphasised that the government must prioritise addressing the crimes committed rather than suppressing the internet.
The appeal to the President strongly condemns the use of women's bodies as sites of brutal violence by both the State and supremacist, patriarchal forces. The signatories have called out the direct culpability of majoritarian mobs and police but have also questioned the inaction and complicity of higher authorities, including institutions like the National Commission for Women (NCW) that failed to act on complaints of sexual violence and rape for an extended period.
The letter highlights the divisive politics being played by the Government of India and majoritarian, rightist forces in Manipur, exploiting the vulnerable sections of the society while allowing hate crimes to go unpunished. In light of the failure to restore normalcy and address the crisis, the signatories have urged the Union Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Manipur to step down, taking moral and legal responsibility.
The appeal to the Hon’ble President includes several demands to address the situation in Manipur:
The President's immediate visit to Manipur to interact with the affected people, especially the violated Kuki-Zo women, and provide them with necessary assurance and support.
Call for a comprehensive and time-bound judicial inquiry into all acts of violence to ensure the arrest and conviction of all accused perpetrators, including under the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and hold law enforcement and political authorities accountable.
Allow civil society's independent fact-finding, peace, and justice missions to visit Manipur, particularly the affected women, and refrain from intimidating those visiting the state.
Uphold tribal rights and guarantee that there will be no unjust and arbitrary changes in the list of the Scheduled Tribes in accordance with the Constitution.
The appeal also raises concerns about the Union Government's attempt to make far-reaching amendments to forest laws, which may result in a massive diversion of forest land across India, including the North-East, leading to the exploitation of forest resources by private-corporate entities and the displacement of Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities. The undersigned have urged the President to resist assenting to such amendments and ensure compliance with the Constitution, Forest Rights Act, 2006, and other relevant laws.
As the humanitarian crisis in Manipur continues to escalate, the signatories hope that the Hon’ble President's intervention and support will pave the way for inter-community harmony, restoration of peace, and safety for all vulnerable sections, especially the Kuki-Zo community. Additionally, they emphasise the need for a transparent and just inquiry into all instances of violence, ensuring that justice is served and violators are held accountable at all levels.
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