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Home > 2023 > Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, July 22 & July 29, 2023

Mainstream, VOL 61 No 30-31, July 22 & July 29 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, July 22 & July 29, 2023

Saturday 22 July 2023


Despite continued mob violence for three months in the Northeastern state of Manipur, which has led to 150 deaths, and the displacement of tens of thousands into refugee camps, not one word was uttered by the Prime Minister of India to express his condemnation and to offer sympathies to victims. And then suddenly on July 19, 2023, a video on social media of the violation of two Kuki women by a mob appeared [1]. This is a video of violent assault by a mob from May 2023 [2]. As this video went ‘viral’ on social media and it is what possibly led Prime Minister Modi to speak and express anguish on the violence in Manipur for the first time [3] [4]. These limited words from the Prime Minister have taken one hell of a long time —of unexplained silence— to come but they are important. The Prime minister must take responsibility and apologise most of all. But the fact remains that both the Government at the center and the State government of Manipur failed the people of Manipur and the people of India and there is a need to fix accountability. The Home Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Manipur should resign immediately. Many senior parliamentarians from various political parties have demanded a full-blown discussion on Manipur in the Parliament over the constitutional failure to protect citizens. We sincerely hope that such a discussion takes place and will lead the Government to take action to stop the violence and bring relief to all. Media reports and editorials point out that one of the women in the video and also the husband of one of the victims clearly state that the mob took them from police protection and the police FIRs were filed in May 2023 [5]. It is clear that the state police sat over these FIRs and didn’t move. It is ridiculous of the Chief Minister of Manipur to say that the State police took ‘sou moto’ action on July 20, after the incriminating video spread like wildfire. This is nothing else than a total failure of the state police [6] and action needs to be taken on this and against all responsible for protecting the perpetrators of communal violence in the state [7]. It is being pointed out that the incident recorded on the video and the corresponding FIR over it is probably not the only such instance and that there may be many many more such incidents of violence against women [8]. Many who have wondered over the silence on part of the National Commission of Women (NCW) [9] read that the NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma told the media July 21 that she had reached out thrice in the last three months to authorities in Manipur over incidents of violence against women but no response was received from them [10]. People no longer even ask if there is National Human Rights Commission in India, these bodies stay silent not to embarrass the big guns in the Government of India [11]. Internet services in the entire state of Manipur have been shut over the past three months. The Government of India issued directives on July 20, to the social media firm Twitter to remove the video of women being paraded naked by a mob in Manipur [12] but this seemed like damage control to its image in the rest of the country over its handling of Manipur. We wonder what may be the situation if this incriminating video hadn’t surfaced. Would the Government be still sitting silent? What has happened in Manipur over the past three months is a huge failure of Governance and all the questions must be asked by the opposition to address this failure.

July 22, 2023 —HK

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