Manipur sexual assault: 4 main accused arrested

Four persons, including a man who was part of the mob that paraded two women naked in Kangpokpi district of Manipur and was seen dragging one of them, were arrested yesterday as the incident continued to evoke outrage across India.

“… 03 (three) more main accused of the heinous crime of abduction and gangrape under Nongpok Sekmai police station in Thoubal district have been arrested today (Thursday). So, a total 04 (four) persons have been arrested till now,” Manipur police tweeted.

The arrests were made more than two months after the incident took place on May 4, a day after the ethnic clashes between the majority Meitei community and minority Kuki ethnic groups of Manipur’s 3.2 million people erupted on May 3. The ethnic clashes and arson have left 150 people dead and 50,000 homeless.

The incident came to light on Wednesday through a video that went viral on Twitter, setting off a countrywide outrage.

Police said the first arrested person, identified as Huirem Heradash Singh (32), was seen directing a mob at B Phainom village of Kangpokpi district in the 26-second video that surfaced on Wednesday.

The identity of the other three arrested persons was not immediately available. Senior police officers were scrutinising the video and matching those who feature in it with the people arrested.

Police last night said a case of abduction, gang rape and murder was registered at Nongpok Sekmai Police Station in Thoubal district against unnamed armed men.

The two women belonging to Manipur’s minority Kuki ethnic group, were allegedly sexually assaulted before being set free by the mob comprising people of the Meitei community.

Thoubal Superintendent of Police Sachidananda told The Indian Express that the police “could not take any action” over the last two months due to “lack of evidence”.

Sachidananda, however, rejected the claims that cops were present at the site at the time of the incident as “untrue”, the newspaper reported.

“That very day, the Nongpok Sekmai Police Station was being mobbed by people trying to loot arms. Police were busy guarding the police station,” the daily quoted the SP as saying.

One of the victims had earlier told The Indian Express that the police were there with the mob which was attacking their village. “The police picked us up from near home, took us a little away from the village and left us on the road with the mob,” she was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

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