Imphal, April 20: Seven youths, who allegedly gang-raped two schoolgirls in Imphal East district last week, have been arrested. Six of them have been remanded in police custody while another has been placed in a juvenile home by an Imphal court.
According to the police, the two girls were both pillion-riding with their respective boyfriends on motorcycles and travelling from Khurai area of Imphal East district on April 14 when the gang of seven attacked them.
April 14 was Cheiraoba, the New Year's Day of the Meiteis, and the two girls and their boyfriends were on their way to take part in thabal chongba, a traditional dance for young boys and girls.
The police said the seven youths, who were travelling on bikes and a car, waylaid the two girls and their boyfriends and abducted them. They took the two couples to Phaknung hillock, 7km from the site of the abduction, and assaulted the girls. They beat up the boyfriends when they protested and later dropped the four back to the site of abduction.
Personnel from the Porampat police station of the district arrested the seven youths on April 18 and an Imphal court yesterday remanded six of the accused in police custody while one was sent to a juvenile home. The police said of the seven youths, one did not take part in the assault.
One of the girls studies in Class XI while the other is appearing for the Class XII board exams.
The police swung into action after the Women Action for Development, an Imphal-based NGO working on girls and women's issues, intervened.
On getting information about the incident, the NGO called the victims and their boyfriends to its office. Mangsatabam Sobita, secretary of the NGO, lodged a complaint with the women police station of Imphal East on Monday.
The police arrested the seven accused the next day.
The six accused have been identified as Thongam Sadananda Singh, 22, Thounaojam Bikas Singh, 19, Loushangbam Thomas Singh, 19, Lousembam Suraj alias Dingku, 19, Loushangbam Jayananda Singh, 18, Phuritsabam Rajan Singh, 18, and Thounaojam Shashikanta Singh alias Gora, 19. They hail from Khurai Angom Leikai.
"We would like to express our gratitude to Imphal East district police for the prompt action. The district police did an excellent job," Sobita told The Telegraph today.
She appealed to the government to beef up police vigil during festivals so that such incidents can be avoided. She also appealed to parents to take extra care of their children.
The Imphal East District Legal Services Authority's N. Noutuneshwari appealed to the public to refrain from taking the law into their own hands by delivering mob justice to the family members of the accused persons.
According to statistics collected by an NGO, there have been nine cases of rape, six cases of murder and one case of attempted rape so far this year. There have already been 79 cases of crimes against women this year, including rape, murder, domestic violence, cyber crime and trafficking.