Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broken his public silence over deadly ethnic clashes in India’s northeast Manipur state after a video went viral showing two women being assaulted by a mob.
The video triggered a massive outrage and went viral late on Wednesday despite the internet being largely blocked and journalists being locked out in the remote state.
It shows two naked women being surrounded by scores of young men who grope their genitals and drag them to a field.
“What has happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven,” Modi told reporters ahead of a parliamentary session in his first public comments related to the Manipur conflict.
The violence depicted in the video was emblematic of the near-civil war in Manipur that has left more than 130 people dead since May, as mobs rampage through villages killing people and torching houses.
The ethnic violence was sparked by an affirmative action controversy which saw Christian Kukis protest a demand from the mostly Hindu Meiteis of a special status that would let them buy land in the hills populated by Kukis and other tribal groups and get a share of government jobs.
The clashes have persisted despite the army’s presence in Manipur, a state of 3.7 million people tucked in the mountains on India’s border with Myanmar that is now divided in two ethnic zones.
The two warring factions have also formed armed militias, and isolated villages are still being raked with gunfire.
Police said the assault on the two women happened 4th May, a day after the violence started in the state.
According to a police complaint filed 18th May, the two women were part of a family attacked by a mob that killed its two male members.