The crisis drew renewed attention this week after a ghastly video circulated on social media in which men from the Meitei group paraded two women, who were Kukis, naked through a crowd of clothed men who assaulted them. The attack took place on May 4, according to local media.
India’s favorite girl never grows up. But her wit is less welcome.
In a May 18 complaint filed to police, the victims allege that “unknown miscreants” stormed their village with guns. While attempting to escape, the women, along with several other people who were accompanying them, were apprehended by police. But later, the group was intercepted by a mob, at which point, the victims allege, the attack began.
“The police were there with the mob which was attacking our village,” one of the victims told the Indian Express. “The police picked us up from near home, and took us a little away from the village and left us on the road with the mob. We were given to them by police.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the assaults Thursday, calling them “shameful” and an “insult” to the country, in his first comments thus far about the ongoing conflict in Manipur.
Previously, though, rhetoric from members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has stoked ethnic tensions in the region. Earlier this year, the chief minister of Manipur, Nongthombam Biren Singh, a BJP member who is Meitei, blamed local problems on the influx of refugees from Myanmar who fled to Manipur after the neighboring country’s 2021 coup. These refugees share ties with the Kukis.
“Chin-Kuki brothers,” Singh said in a March television interview, “are encroaching everywhere and planting poppy and doing drugs business.”
Many refugees from Myanmar are part of the Chin tribes, which is closely linked to the Kukis. Some members of the Meitei majority, meanwhile, have decried the bestowal of certain legal protections to tribal groups like the Kukis.