In the aftermath of a distressing viral video that brought to light the appalling abuse of Christian women in Manipur state, northeast India, a tribal organization has stepped forward to unveil a disheartening report.
The report sheds light on a series of physical and sexual assaults against women within the predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribal community. Representing the acknowledged tribes in Churachandpur district, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) has published a list of 12 additional attacks on women. These incidents are just a glimpse of the larger magnitude of crimes inflicted upon Kuki-Zo women between May 3 and July 6.
The violence is part of an ongoing ethnic conflict between the Kuki-Zo tribes and the largely Hindu Meiteis community, which began on May 3 and continues to cause devastation in the region. According to the ITLF, the conflict has led to at least 129 confirmed deaths among the Kuki-Zo people, with 292 villages burned, over 4,550 houses destroyed, and 357 churches and religious buildings razed in Manipur since May 3.
The conflict’s origins can be traced back to a court order in April that called for the Meitei community’s possible inclusion in the scheduled tribe list, raising fears among tribal groups of land acquisition in their territories. Since then, violence against the Kuki-Zo community has escalated, leading to numerous atrocities against women.
The report highlights some of the most gruesome attacks on Kuki-Zo women during this period. One incident involved a mob of about 100 people attacking 22 tribal Christians, including a critically ill woman, at Mrs. Thangi Hmar’s home. Another incident saw a mother and her two daughters brutally killed in the Uripok area, sparked by false reports of Meitei women being assaulted in Churachandpur. The attacks included physical assault, rape, and murder, with victims experiencing unimaginable brutality.
The international community has responded with outrage and condemnation, urging the Indian government to take immediate action to restore peace in Manipur. The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for urgent intervention to address the escalating tribal conflict, which has displaced more than 50,000 people.
The resolution also expressed concern over divisive policies promoting Hindu majoritarianism and increased militant group activities, as well as the alleged involvement of security forces in killings, leading to a lack of trust in the authorities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is facing increased domestic and international pressure over its response to the violence in Manipur. A no-confidence vote in Parliament has been filed by an opposition lawmaker from the Congress Party, although it is unlikely to result in Modi’s defeat given his party’s majority.
In response to the international outcry, India’s Ministry of External Affairs has rejected foreign interference, labeling the situation as an “internal matter.” The government asserts that they are taking steps to maintain peace, harmony, law, and order in Manipur.
The situation in Manipur remains deeply concerning, with the violence against women and the ongoing ethnic conflict posing significant challenges to the region’s stability. As the world continues to watch, the focus remains on finding a peaceful resolution and ending the abhorrent crimes against women in the Kuki-Zo community.