Narendra Modi is a consummate polariser. The Indian prime minister’s penchant for dividing people is legendary. A pogrom against Muslims happened in 2002 under his chief ministerial watch in the state of Gujarat. This divisiveness is again on display, in Manipur now in north-eastern India. For 79 days, since the onset of the state-sponsored violence in Manipur, Mr Modi has been watching the conflict without uttering a word, even as bodies of Manipuri women continue to be weaponised.
The Indirect and Insincere Condemnation
Finally, Mr Modi did break his silence on July 20th. What forced him to speak was a 26-second leaked video clip which showed how two Kuki women were beaten, stripped naked, groped, paraded and raped by Meitei men in Manipur on May 4th. The video had gone viral in minutes. Terribly disturbed, D Y Chandrachud, the Chief Justice of India, issued an ultimatum to Mr Modi’s government to either bring the villains to book or step aside for the judiciary to take immediate action. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/why-pm-congress- reacts-centre-manipur-sexual-assault-case-8849680/
As the leaked video clip left the world in shock, Mr Modi managed to emerge finally out of his self-imposed silence. He condemned the Manipur horror for the record. Even in that sombre moment, he wasted no opportunity to talk about rapes in opposition-ruled states of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. As Mr Modi politicised the agonies of Manipur women, his condemnation of the horror sounded hollow and half-hearted, indirect and insincere.
Video Courtesy: YouTube/WION
The Ethnic Cleansing Strategy
The virulent video clip took 75 days to surface, thanks to the internet shutdown in force in Manipur. Internet shutdown is a time-tested strategy of Mr Modi to throttle flow of information. For five years in a row, India is the world’s largest internet offender among democracies. In 2022 alone, Mr Modi was responsible for a record 84 deliberate shutdowns. Yet, the video managed to go viral. The video may be just another beginning for a new cycle of violence in Manipur. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/28/in-2022-the- world-saw-187-internet-shutdowns-84-by-india-alone
For Mr Modi, ethnic violence in Manipur is politically desirable. Reason why, despite the destruction of Kuki properties and churches, Mr Modi chose to play dumb. The affluent Meiteis are Hindus and they are in majority. They live around capital Imphal and in the Manipur valley. The less affluent Kukis and the Zos are Christians, who are minorities residing in the hilly areas. Weaponising women’s bodies is a recent ethnic-cleansing strategy in Manipur. Mr Modi and his party’s government in Manipur should own responsibility for the Manipur violence. Is this a State-Sponsored Storm? – The Poliphoon
The Farcical Peace Talks
Why women is a question that is often asked by those who do not understand how Mr Modi’s mind works. The affluent Meiteis have been incited and their ethnic passions have been aroused. The Kuki tribals should be driven out of the state for being non-Hindu Christian ‘infiltrators’. The premeditated purge thus has the blessings of Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. As his Bharatiya Janata Party, aka BJP, is in power in Manipur and the chief minister Biren Singh is a Meitei, the ideal way to purge the Kukis is to violate their women. With the tacit support of Mr Singh and his submissive police force, bodies of Kuki women can be weaponised with impunity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx2qLhvprZM
This is the grand Meitei conspiracy, possibly hatched in divisive conclaves in New Delhi. The north-eastern state of 3.7m people is terribly polarised now. Yet, Mr Singh shows no signs of stepping down. Peace talks are held, but they are farcical. In fact, after every round of peace talks, violence seems to escalate. Inevitably, Manipur has become a global issue. Recently, the European Parliament adopted a resolution declaring the violence in Manipur “the result of divisive policies promoting Hindu majoritarianism.” Manipur Mayhem Goes Global – The Poliphoon The leaked video of the two Kuki women, paraded nude in full public glare, will now make Manipur a matter of geopolitical concern with humanitarian implications.
The Criminal Collaboration
Of late, prominent mainstream newspapers of the world have been front-paging the Manipur horror of parading disadvantaged women naked. The idea of parading the Kuki women naked is to shame the entire community to an extent that they flee the state. Quite natural that ethnic cleansing in Manipur is likened to Adolf Hitler’s obsession with racial purity and his pogroms involving the Jews. Clearly, the video footage shows the Meitei mob threatening the two Kuki women with death if they did not shed their clothes.
In fact, reports talk of Manipur policemen handing the two Kuki women over to the marauding Meitei mob. The hands of the Manipur police are stained. Complicity of the police is a sure sign that weaponisation of Kuki women’s bodies had the tacit approval of the political masters. This criminal collaboration has left the entire Kuki community terrorised and traumatised. Manipur May 4 Horror Victim Narrates Terrifying Ordeal; Says ‘Police Left Us With Mob’ | Details – YouTube
The Bloodiest Hindu-Christian Conflict
As Kuki women continue to be raped with impunity in Manipur, weaponisation of their bodies goes on unchecked. The ethnic cleansing programme Mr Modi’s party has in mind for Manipur seems nearing completion. The world, with its conscience shaken, is watching with concern. What began as a reconcilable Meitei-Kuki-Zo conflict is rapidly acquiring religious colours. The communal and ethnic agenda of Mr Modi and his party stands confirmed.
As the ethnic violence goes on unchecked, the Manipur conflict threatens to become India’s bloodiest Hindu-Christian conflict ever. The 250 vandalised churches prove such a threat is real. Then came the explosive 26-second video clip. The internet ban in Manipur itself is a fit case for human rights violation. All these are signs of an ethnic strife that is fast degenerating into a communal tinderbox. Mr Singh can claim that his police swung into action immediately to arrest four Meitei men. Regrettably, it was too late and too little. India: four men arrested after women stripped naked and paraded in Manipur | India | The Guardian
The Refusal to go to the Root Cause
The arrests are farcical as the entire Meitei community and the state police standing behind are the culprits. Singling out four of them is neither doing justice nor solving the problem. The disingenuous arrests reflect administration’s refusal to strike at the roots of the violence involving weaponisation of women’s bodies. More worrisome is the use of fake news to achieve that despicable weaponisation. Reports in sections of the media indicate the violence against the two Kuki women began with a piece of fake news. Provoked by the inflammatory image of a young Meitei woman’s body in a plastic bag, uploaded on a social media platform, violent mobs began weaponising women’s bodies in retaliation. No, Photo Does Not Show Body Of Meitei Woman Raped By Kukis In Manipur | BOOM (boomlive.in). This image was fake.
The Poliphoon’s Last Word
As the fake image went viral, the accompanying message claimed that the killed woman was a Meitei nursing student, who was raped and killed by the Kukis in Churachandpur Medical College in Manipur. The message and the claim were fake. The message was manufactured to trigger violence against the Kukis in Manipur. The needle of suspicion points towards the stakeholders in the Hindu nationalist project. What finally emerges from the video episode is this: the strategy of weaponising women’s bodies to whip up murder and mayhem in a state continues to be in active use under Mr Modi’s stewardship. Not just Manipur’s, this is India’s real tragedy.