No response received from Manipur authorities despite reaching out thrice over women-related violence: NCW chief

The NCW chief said that she had received other complaints regarding women issues and for that she had reached out thrice to authorities in Manipur but no response was received from them.
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma

New Delhi | National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma on Friday said she had reached out thrice in the last three months to authorities in Manipur over incidents of violence against women but no response was received from them.

The complaints received by the NCW in the past three months were related to crime and violence against women, including rape and burning of houses of women, sources said.

Speaking to PTI, Sharma denied reports that appeared in a section of the media that claimed the commission had on June 12 received a complaint about the incident of two women being paraded naked on May 4 in the ethnic violence-hit northeastern state but had not taken any action. The video of the May 4 incident surfaced online on July 19.

Sharma said she took suo motu cognisance of the incident on Friday after the video surfaced, and sought explanation from authorities on the matter.

The NCW chief said that she had received other complaints regarding women issues and for that she had reached out thrice to authorities in Manipur but no response was received from them.

She also shared the letters sent to authorities in the state.

Sharma had written to them over complaints of incidents of violence against women.

"We had to verify the authenticity, and also the complaints were not from Manipur, some were not even from India. We reached out to authorities but no response was received from them but then we took suo motu cognisance when the video (of women being paraded naked) went viral yesterday," Sharma told PTI.

The letters were written on May 18, May 29 and June 19.

"The first complaint that we received was from a group, we wrote to the DG Police (director general of police) and the chief secretary (CS) on the matter. We reminded them. Then we received another complaint and again wrote to the DG and the CS again. Before the suo motu we reached out thrice to them and there was no response," she said.

Though the copies of the complaints were not shared, but sources told PTI that they were related to violence against women, including incidents of rape and burning of houses of women, in the state.

When asked if the commission thought of summoning officials when they did not respond, Sharma said that "summoning them would have meant that they will be away from the ground where so much is already happening".

"We could not have gone for an inquiry because of the issue of security of the team due to the situation there (Manipur), and if it was like other states, I would have gone there. We repeatedly tried to communicate through the period with the DG Police and the chief secretary but there was no response," she said.

In the letter written on June 19 to the DGP and the CS of Manipur, the commission stated, "The National Commission for Women, Government of India, is in receipt of representations regarding the recent unfortunate clashes amongst communities in Manipur which has resulted in loss of several lives and property while many have been displaced".

"Hence, it is extremely pertinent to respect the dignity and fundamental rights of all women and girls by ensuring food, safety, shelter and healthcare, including distribution of sanitary napkins and special provision for lactating women in temporary shelters. In addition, a mechanism needs to be in place for quick response to the incidences of violence and harassment of women," it stated.

The NCW, in the letter, had asked the state government for immediate support to affected women and appropriate action in this regard.

Tension mounted in the hills of Manipur after the May 4 video surfaced on Wednesday showing two women from one of the warring communities being paraded naked by a group of men from the other side.

Four people have been arrested in connection with the incident, official sources in Imphal said on Thursday night, as the 26-second video capturing the ordeal of the two tribal women a day after ethnic violence erupted in the northeastern state on May 3 stoked a nationwide outrage.

The horrific footage surfaced only on Wednesday and became viral after the internet ban was lifted.

More than 160 people have lost their lives, and several have been injured since ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3 when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur's population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, which include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.

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