United Nations experts have voiced their condemnation of the Indian government’s “slow and inadequate response” to reported serious human rights violations, including sexual violence, amid deadly ethnic clashes in the remote northeastern region of Manipur.
In a statement issued on Monday, the nearly 20 independent United Nations human rights experts, including special rapporteurs on violence against women and girls, as well as on torture, expressed their deep concerns regarding the perceived slow and inadequate reaction from the Government of India, including law enforcement, to curb physical and sexual violence and hate speech in Manipur.
Their response came in light of reported abuses that have occurred since clashes erupted in Manipur in May.
According to reports, by mid-August, approximately 160 individuals had lost their lives, with 300 others sustaining injuries during the violence.
Furthermore, tens of thousands of people were displaced, thousands of homes were burnt down, and farmland was destroyed.
The experts particularly highlighted their shock at reports and images depicting gender-based violence, primarily against women and girls of the Kuki ethnic minority.
Alleged acts of violence encompassed gang rape, public humiliation through parading women naked in the streets, fatal beatings, and the burning of victims, either alive or after death.
The experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but do not represent the United Nations as an institution, expressed their grave concern that the violence appeared to be preceded and incited by hate speech.
This hate speech disseminated both online and offline, was used as a justification for the atrocities inflicted upon the Kuki ethnic minority, particularly women, based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs.
Manipur witnessed ethnic divisions, with rival militias establishing blockades to keep members of opposing communities out.
As a response to the unrest, tens of thousands of additional soldiers have been deployed from other regions to patrol towns and highways, and a curfew and internet shutdown remain in effect across Manipur.
The UN experts called upon the Indian government to intensify relief efforts for those affected and to promptly and decisively investigate acts of violence.
They emphasized the necessity of holding perpetrators accountable, including public officials who may have contributed to the incitement of racial and religious hatred and violence.