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Modi breaks his reticence on ethnic violence in Manipur after a video shows naked women being paraded through the streets.

NEW DELHI— Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke more than two months of public silence regarding lethal ethnic clashes in India’s northeast on Thursday, stating that the assaults of two women in Manipur state while they were being nakedly paraded by a mob were inexcusable.

On Wednesday night, a video depicting the assaults sparked widespread indignation and was widely shared on social media, despite the fact that the internet was largely blocked and journalists were barred from entering the remote state. It depicts two naked women being groped and dragged across a field by dozens of young men.

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“The culpable will be punished. “What has happened to the daughters of Manipur cannot be forgiven,” Modi told reporters prior to a parliamentary session in his first public remarks regarding the Manipur conflict.

Without mentioning the violence specifically, Modi urged state leaders to guarantee the safety of women and called the incident “shameful for any civilized nation.”

“My heart is filled with pain and anger,” he said.

The ethnic violence depicted in the video was emblematic of the near-civil war in Manipur, where rioters ransacked villages and torched homes, killing over 130 people since May.

Christian Kukis protested a demand from the predominantly Hindu Meiteis for a special status that would allow them to purchase land in the hills inhabited by Kukis and other tribal groups and receive a portion of government jobs.

Despite the army’s presence in Manipur, a state of 3.7 million people nestled in the mountains on India’s frontier with Myanmar that is now divided into two ethnic zones, the clashes have continued. In addition to form ing armed militias, the contending factions have also continued to bombard remote villages with gunfire. More than 65,000 individuals have escaped to overcrowded refugee camps.

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On Thursday in New Delhi, protesters held signs urging Modi to break his two-month reticence on the ethnic violence in Manipur. AFP/ARUN SANKAR, Getty Images

The assault on the two women reportedly occurred on May 4, a day after the violence in the state began. According to a police report filed on the 18th of May, the two women were part of a family that was attacked by a mob that murdered two male family members. The complaint alleges rape and homicide by “unknown miscreants.”

Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh announced on Twitter that the state police have made their first arrest in the case, without elaborating on the number of individuals who have been apprehended.

“A thorough investigation is currently underway, and we will ensure that all of the perpetrators are severely punished, including the possibility of the death penalty.” “Let it be known that such heinous acts have no place in our society,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, India’s Supreme Court expressed concern over the assault and requested that the government inform it of the measures it has taken to apprehend those responsible.

“In a democratic republic, it is unacceptable. If the administration does not act, we will,” said D.Y. Chandrachud, chief justice of India.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, a Manipur-based tribal organization, reports that the victims are from the Kuki-Zo community. One of them told The Associated Press that the men who assaulted the two women were members of a Meitei mob that had previously set their village on fire.

“They forced us to remove our clothing and threatened to murder us if we did not comply. Then we were forced to proceed naked. We were humiliated. They groped us all over… on our breasts and genitalia,” she reported over the phone from Manipur.

The victim stated that the two were then led into a field and sexually assaulted. Two women are currently secure in a refugee camp.

India’s Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, described the incident as “absolutely inhumane.” She stated on Thursday that investigations were underway and that “no effort will be spared in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Mallikarjun Kharge, president of India’s primary opposition Congress party, accused the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of “turning democracy and the rule of law into mobocracy.”

Kharge stated that Modi should address Manipur in Parliament, echoing a demand made by other opposition parties and rights advocates.

“India will never forgive your silence,” he tweeted.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution last week urging Indian authorities to cease the violence in Manipur and protect religious minorities, particularly Christians. The foreign ministry of India denounced the resolution as “interference” in its internal affairs.

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