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‘We are controlled by men with guns’ - Human Rights Leader Denounces Gender Violence In Modi’s India

By Belal Awad · July 28, 2023

In brief…

  • A viral video depicts two women being stripped and assaulted by a mob in Manipur, India.
  • The video is a sad example of the long history of ethnic and gender-based violence in the northeastern Indian state.
  • Activist/author Binalakshmi Nepram reports that human rights are suspended, and women's rights are non-existent in Manipur
  • The region is largely ontrolled by armed men from both state and non-state groups.
  • The ethnic conflict in Manipur, brewing for decades, continues to escalate, posing a threat to India's democratic and national security interests.
  • Nepram denounced Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his slow reponse to the crisis.
India has a sad history of communal violence. Photo shows aftermath of the 2020 Delhi riots  Wikimedia Commons

A graphic viral video depicting two women being stripped naked and assaulted by a mob in Manipur is the latest episode in a long history of ethnic and gender-based violence in the Indian state. According to noted author and human rights activist, Binalakshmi Nepram, the state’s human rights have been suspended, while women’s rights are essentially non-existent. “We are controlled by men with guns, both state and non-state. As a result… they are now fighting the war over women’s bodies,” she lamented.

The deadly ethnic conflict has been brewing for decades the northeastern state of Manipur now threatens “the democratic fabric of the nation” said Napram. A local story until now, the Manipur crisis has gone international, drawing condemnation from a “shocked and horrified” Biden administration. The state, home to 60 armed insurgent groups and hundreds of thousands of Indian Army military troops, has been under martial law for decades due to ethnic tensions and charges of widespread human rights abuses.

Nepram called the state of affairs “one of the darkest times in the history of Manipur… Sexual violence and conflict in the state of Manipur has been happening repeatedly since the 1970s, when insurgency and insurgency operations started,” Nepram told Al Jazeera. She cited numerous cases of brutal rape and murder committed by both state and non-state actors, including by the Indian security forces.

Nepram chastised Prime Minister Narendra Modi foot-dragging on the crisis. “The silence of the Prime Minister for more than 76 days before he spoke shows that he is complicit to the crime of what is happening, not just on the bodies of the women, but more than 160 people have died,” said Nepram.

Left unchecked, she said, the ongoing violence in Manipur could pose a threat to India’s national security interests. “This is not a fight between two communities. This is a fight where it is engineered by people connected to political power, guns, drugs, and human trafficking,” Nepram said sadly.