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Manipur puts cops on rape alert

Imphal, Jan. 7: Manipur deputy chief minister Gaikhangam has put all police stations in the state on alert, as part of the nationwide campaign against rape and molestation.

“We have given strict instructions to all police stations to be vigilant and give top priority to cases of rape and molestation. They have been told to register suo motu cases if there is any report of sexual assault instead of waiting for formal written complaints from the victims or relatives,” Gaikhangam, who is also in-charge of the home department, told this correspondent.

The move follows the nationwide cry against the Delhi gang rape and the recent turmoil in Manipur over the molestation of film actress Momoco by senior NSCN (Isak-Muivah) functionary R.P. Livingstone in Chandel district last month.

A fortnight later, three men had tried to rape a student in Imphal East district posing as cadres of a militant group. All three were arrested.

On December 27, an 18-year-old housewife was raped by a neighbour at Wangjing in Thoubal district. The next day, an angry mob set on fire the house of the accused, Soibam Somorjit, 44. He was arrested.

“The increasing instances of sexual crimes in the state are a matter of serious concern and we are taking steps to deal with it. We will ensure that the culprits are brought to book. Police stations have been instructed to investigate cases of sexual crime speedily and submit chargesheets quickly,” Gaikhangam said.

He said the state government was exploring all possible ways, including seeking help from the Centre, to arrest Livingstone. Manipur police believe that Livingstone fled Manipur after he was declared wanted and a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh was announced for his arrest.

Gaikhangam supported the nation’s demand for a stringent law to ensure severest punishment for rapists. He also appealed to victims and relatives to report cases of rape to the nearest police stations so that the police could take prompt action.

According to statistics compiled by an NGO, Women Action for Development, 104 cases of rape were reported between 2005 and October last year in the state, of which 21 cases of rape were reported last year. During the same period, there were 24 cases of murder after rape, of which two were reported last year.