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From viral video to nationwide outrage: Indian women cry for justice over sexual assault

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Women in India’s northeastern state of Manipur attacked the house of the main suspect in a sexual assault case that has caused outrage throughout the nation, as reported by state police on Friday.

According to the police, the individual had allegedly dragged two tribal women onto the streets in May and incited a mob to rape and parade them naked.

Although the sexual assault occurred over two months ago, it gained national attention recently after a video of the incident went viral on social media, leading to unrest in Manipur.

Following the condemnation of the assault as “shameful” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his promise of stern action, the main suspect, a Manipur resident, was arrested on Thursday. Additionally, three others were also arrested, while police are still tracing at least 30 more individuals involved in the crime.

Hemant Pandey, a senior police official in the state capital Imphal, stated, “Local women pelted stones and burned parts of the house belonging to the prime accused in a village. We urge women to protest peacefully as there is intense unease. We understand their anger.”

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The police complaint, filed in May, stated that an armed mob vandalized several houses and set them ablaze in a village in Kangpokpi district before attacking members belonging to the Kuki tribe. The mob then sexually assaulted two women aged 21 and 19, parading them naked.

The victims reported the assault in May during a period of intense ethnic clashes in the state. These clashes were triggered by a court order that required the government to consider extending special benefits enjoyed by the tribal Kuki people to the majority Meitei population as well. Since the violence erupted, at least 125 people have been killed, and over 40,000 have been displaced from their homes.

Rights groups across India are planning protests to demand justice and swift investigations into this disturbing incident, which raises questions about the safety of women in the country.

A student in the eastern city of Kolkata, Radhika Burman led a public demonstration on Thursday and expressed, “We want to know why the police failed to take swift action when they knew that women were raped and paraded naked in Manipur.”

In the southern city of Bengaluru, hundreds of demonstrators marched with banners saying, “Women’s body is not a battlefield,” and questioned the authorities’ failure to investigate the case reported by the two victims belonging to the minority tribal community in May.

  1. J. Lakshmi, of Samakaleena Samajik Sanskritik Vedike, a civil society organization in Bengaluru, criticized, “This is gross injustice and neglect.”

Similar protests were held in the eastern city of Bhubaneswar and on college campuses across the country.

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