An Indian Youth Congress worker is detained by police at a protest against the ongoing violence in Manipur state in New Delhi, India 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/HARISH TYAGI

Anger grows in India over viral video of women paraded naked

New Delhi, Jul 21 (EFE).- Anger in India was growing over footage of two women who were forced to parade naked in the northeastern state of Manipur, amid tense scenes in parliament and a large demonstration in New Delhi.

People protest against the ongoing violence in Manipur state in New Delhi, India 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/HARISH TYAGI

The video, which was allegedly recorded over two months ago but went viral Thursday, shows two naked women forced to walk through a field in Manipur surrounded by dozens of men, some of whom were armed with sticks.

An Indian Youth Congress worker is detained by police at a protest against the ongoing violence in Manipur state in New Delhi, India 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/HARISH TYAGI

The northeastern state has been gripped by a wave of deadly ethnic violence in recent months between the largely Hindu Meitei community and the mostly Christian Kukis.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talks to the media upon his arrival with other cabinet ministers to attend the monsoon session at the Parliament House in New Delhi, India, 20 July 2023. EFE/EPA/HARISH TYAGI

Manipur Police said the footage was recorded on May 4, while the two women belong to the Kuki-Zomi tribal community, according to a statement issued by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF).

The footage has sparked outrage across the country as well as criticism from several cabinet members and opposition parties.

Angry protestors on Friday took to Delhi’s Jantar Mantar protest site, one of the few places in the capital where demonstrations are allowed.

Neicha, who preferred to share only her first name, decried the inaction of India’s authorities “for more than two months” even though the affected women had reported the incident.

“We have come here to express our anger and sorrow on what is happening in Manipur on a large scale and specifically on this horrible incident of women being subjected to such dehumanized treatment in Manipur,” she told Efe.

“I don’t know what is worse, if they knew and didn’t do anything or if they didn’t even know about it. It’s equally bad,” she added.

The role of the police has also been called into question, after reports emerged that a complaint was filed days after the incident.

Jennifer, another protester, condemned the acts and added “that’s just one incident that has been shown in the video.”

“There are a lot more stories, which are not even out in the media,” she told Efe.

Both Neicha and Jennifer, like many other protesters gathered in Jantar Mantar, said they belonged to the Kuki community and called for a separate administration from the largely Hindu Meitei group in Manipur.

In parliament, tensions mounted with opposition members calling for Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to appear in the chamber to be questioned for the first time since the wave of ethnic violence began nearly three months ago in Manipur, where at least 142 people have died, according to government data.

Addressing Modi on Twitter, leader of the opposition Indian National Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge, said “INDIA (an acronym for an alliance of Indian opposition parties) expects you to make an elaborate statement in the Parliament today, not just on one incident, but on the 80-day violence that your government in the state and the center has presided upon, looking absolutely helpless and remorseless.”

During the session, opposition MPs held up placards calling for the PM’s intervention and repeatedly interrupted MPs from the ruling BJP party to urge them to discuss the situation in Manipur.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh defended the government, however, saying it was “ready for a discussion” on the Manipur issue.

He pointed out that in a televised address on Thursday, Modi – who was making his first remarks on the sectarian violence – had said that the country was “shamed” by the video and promised a tough response.

Singh went on to accuse the opposition of “unnecessarily creating problems” and of not enabling discussions to take place.

The session was adjourned until next week amid the uproar and protests.

A wave of ethnic violence has engulfed Manipur since early May, when the clashes began after a demonstration by minority tribal communities from the state against the regional High Court advising the inclusion of the dominant group, Meitei, in the list of disadvantaged “scheduled” tribes.

The Meitei’s inclusion would allow the majority and predominantly Hindu community to gain access to quotas in education and government jobs available to marginalized groups in India.

The move has infuriated minority tribal communities, including the Kukis.

More than 50,000 people have been displaced by the violence. EFE