Indian women move top court for impartial probe over sexual abuse during ethnic violence

New Delhi, Jul 21 (EFE).- Lawyers of two women who were forced to walk naked by a male mob in the northeast Indian state of Manipur – hit by ethnic conflict for almost three months – on Monday sought an independent investigation into the violence against them in a hearing at the Supreme Court.

“What we want is an agency which is independent,” senior lawyer Kapil Sibal told a bench of the top court, according to statements shared by specialized media outlet Live Law, opposing the Indian government’s proposal for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

A video of the two women, forced to walk naked in front of a crowd of men in a rural area of Manipur’s Thoubal district, surfaced last week and triggered a wave of anger across India, even though the incident dates back to early May.

“On May 4 the incident took place. The video went viral on July 19 and the court took note on July 20. What we need is an agency where the victims will have confidence,” said Sibal, claiming that it was the police which had handed the women to the mob instead of offering them the protection they had sought.

Lawyer Indira Jaisingh backed this position and urged the court to establish a committee of women from the civil society, who could record the statement of the survivors.

The Supreme Court of India on Monday heard several petitions related to a wave of ethnic violence that has swept the state of Manipur for almost three months, with at least 142 people killed and several reports of sexual assaults.

On May 3, clashes had broken out between the minority Kuki tribal community and the Meitei majority, over the latter’s demand to be included in the list of disadvantaged “scheduled” tribes in order to gain access to quotas in education and government jobs.

The conflict has also echoed in the Indian parliament, where the opposition accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi – whose Bharatiya Janata Party is also in power in Manipur – on remaining silent on the violence, and demanded that Modi clarify the government’s failure in the house. EFE


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