A 37-year-old married woman from Manipur's Churachandpur district alleged she was caught by a group of men — while she was fleeing from her burning house with her two sons, niece and sister-in-law — and gang-raped on May 3.
NEW DELHI — With the authorities goading them to speak up, several women in Manipur are coming to the police to narrate their ordeal and harrowing experiences. As such, another horrific case of sexual assault in early May emerged, after the survivor filed a police case.
The 37-year-old woman survivor from Manipur’s Churachandpur district — living in a relief camp — alleged that she was caught by a group of men while fleeing from her burning house with her two sons, niece and sister-in-law. She said she was gang-raped on May 3, the day violence broke out in the district after a rally by the hill-majority Kukis over the valley-majority Meiteis’ demand for inclusion under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.
The woman mustered enough courage to go to the police after seeing reports of women speaking up about the horrors they went through, a report in NDTV said on Thursday.
“I did not disclose the incident to save myself and my family’s honour, dignity and to save ourselves from social ostracism. The delay in filing this complaint is due to social stigma… I even wanted to end myself,” the woman said in her statement attached with the ‘zero FIR’ filed with Bishnupur police station on Wednesday.
She is now living in a relief camp for internally displaced people. A case has been filed under Sections 376D, 354, 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
According to the first information report (FIR), at 6.30 pm on May 3, miscreants started burning the woman and her neighbour’s houses, after which she, her two sons, niece and sister-in-law ran as fast as they could.
“I carried my niece on my back and also held my two sons and started running from the spot along with my sister-in-law. She was also carrying a baby on her back and running ahead of me. Then I stumbled and fell down on the road and unable to get up… my sister-in-law came back running towards me and picked up my niece from my back and ran along with my two sons as I insisted,” the woman said in the ‘zero FIR’ filed in Bishnupur, 35 km from her now-destroyed house in Churachandpur, the NDTV report said.
“When I finally managed to get up, some five-six… miscreants got hold of me… They started verbally abusing and assaulting me. Despite my resistance, I was forcefully pinned down. After this, the men started sexually assaulting me…” the report quoted the woman as saying in the FIR.
A ‘zero FIR’ can be filed at any police station, not necessarily at a police station under whose jurisdiction the crime happened. The police station where the case has been filed has to send the FIR to the correct jurisdiction, which will then investigate it, in this case the police station in Churachandpur.
The woman said her health completely deteriorated, and she even thought of dying by suicide. She said she went to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in the state capital Imphal but returned without seeing a doctor as she couldn’t even “express” herself.
Subsequently, she said, she went to JNIMS Hospital in Imphal on Tuesday as her health worsened. The doctors there treated and counselled her, contributing to her strength to report the case.
“… I started realising the trauma and sufferings that I went through because of their heinous crimes committed against me without any fault of mine… Adequate punishment should be given to the gang of culprits who abused, sexually and physically assaulted me,” the woman was quoted as saying.
Last month, a horrific video of two women being paraded naked on a road by a group of men in Manipur was shared widely on social media, drawing massive condemnation and calls for action. The accused seen in the video have been arrested.
The Manipur Police told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that over 6,500 police cases have been filed between the nearly three-month period from May 3 to July 30.
The biggest chunk of police cases has been filed under the category “arson, looting and destruction of house property”, according to a police report submitted to the Supreme Court. NDTV said it has seen the report.