New Delhi: All the ten Naga MLAs in Manipur on Thursday, July 20, condemned the stripping and parading of three Kuki women on May 4 in the Kangkopi district, saying that the unspeakable crimes against women continue to “amplify the present crisis and plague Manipur”.
According to India Today, the MLAs – nine of whom are from the BJP or its allies – held a press conference at Langol on July 20 to condemn the shocking incident, the FIR relating to which mentions that one of the women was gang-raped.
The press conference was led by the convenor of the Naga Legislature Forum, Awangbow Newmai, who is also the minister of water resources. He said that such a “heinous and beastly crime against humanity and unacceptable”.
”The authority concerned should take due rigorous punishments to all those involved culprits. That unfortunate incident at occurred at B Phainom village under Kangpokpi district truly manifested unspeakable crime against women which continues to amplify the present crisis and plague Manipur,” Newmai said, according to India Today.
”The Naga MLAs forum also extended its sincere solidarity to those victims and family members who were traumatised and pained while extending condolences to those bereaved family members of those killed in the sad incident,” the statement added.
Leaders of the Naga community have largely maintained silence over the ethnic violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities. While Naga student groups were part of the solidarity march that has been seen as the spark that lit the fire, the community has largely been unaffected by violence.
According to Indian Express, five of the MLAs are from the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and two from the National People’s Party (NPP), both of which are BJP allies. There were also two BJP MLAs and an Independent MLA who signed the statement.
“None of us had seen the video till Wednesday, and it was a shock. We had heard rumours of cases of rape and molestation of women, but this was the first proof we saw. It is not possible for any human being to carry out such a heinous crime – they were animals. No matter what the misunderstanding between the two communities are, even in times of war, you cannot make women the collateral damage,’’ Newmai told Indian Express.
He said while the Naga community may not be involved in the clashes it is affected. “Life has come to a standstill and normalcy no longer exists in the state. Soon after the violence erupted, we Naga MLAs formed peace committees and tried reaching out to both communities to get them to the table for discussions. But this has not really been successful so far. Even the leaders of the two communities are trying their best to restore peace, but they are unable to control the public. The situation has spiralled out of control,” he said.
An unnamed Naga leader told the newspaper that the violence is continuing because “one man is being protected”. The leader said, “We can’t understand why the Centre is shielding the Chief Minister (N Biren Singh). There are over 30 MLAs in the BJP. Many of these leaders are highly respected in the communities and have a clean record. Why can’t the Central leadership just change the CM?’’