The Centre has asked the CBI to take over the probe into the sexual assault of two Kuki women who were disrobed and paraded by a mob before one of them was allegedly gang-raped in Manipur on May 4, sources said.
“The central government... makes a specific request that the entire case, including the trial of the offence in question, be ordered to be transferred by this court to any state outside the state of Manipur,” the Union home ministry said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court that is scheduled to hear on Friday petitions on the violence in Manipur.
The Supreme Court had on its own taken cognisance of the video of the atrocity on the women.
The person who had recorded the video is among the seven people arrested in connection with the crime, it emerged on Thursday.
This particular arrest, sources in the Union home ministry and the Manipur government said, was made on July 20, a day after the video emerged.
“The CBI has been asked to take over the probe into the sexual assault case in which the two women were stripped and paraded by a mob before one of them was allegedly gang-raped,” a Union home ministry official said.
The CBI, the official said, has been asked to probe the alleged conspiracy behind the violence in Manipur.
Sources in the Union home ministry said the mobile phone used to film the video had been impounded.
After taking cognisance of the video on July 20, the Supreme Court had said it was “deeply disturbed”.
The bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had directed the Centre and the Manipur government to take immediate remedial, rehabilitative and preventive steps and apprise it of the action taken.
“We will give a little time to the government to act, otherwise we will take action if nothing is happening on the ground,” CJI Chandrachud had said.
The bench, which took on board the pending pleas related to the violence in Manipur, posted them for hearing on July 28.
Sources in Manipur said seven persons had been arrested so far in connection with the video, including four on July 20.
“He was among the four persons arrested on July 20. He is above 18 years and a school dropout from Thoubal district,” a source familiar with the case told The Telegraph.
“Only an investigation can reveal whether he was part of the mob or had just recorded the incident.
“All the arrested persons have been remanded in 11 days’ police custody,” the source added.
The Manipur police had tweeted on July 20: “Four main accused arrested in the Viral Video Case: 03 (three) more main accused of the heinous crime of abduction and gangrape under Nongpok Sekmai PS, Thoubal District have been arrested today. So total 04 (four) persons have been arrested till now.”
The first accused to be arrested was Huirem Herodas Meitei, 32, a resident of Thoubal district.
Chief minister N. Biren Singh, condemning the incident, had said none involved would be spared.
Questions, however, have been raised on the delay in acting against the accused.
The incident took place on May 4, a day after the clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities started.
The police complaint in the case was lodged by a relative of one of the victims in Kangpokpi district on May 18. It was registered as a zero FIR and subsequently transferred to the police station concerned on June 21.
However, the police action started only after the video of the incident went viral on July 19.
On Thursday, a Kuki “village volunteer” — Lunminthang, 30 — was killed and three injured during an attack by a Meitei group in the Kangvai area of Churachandpur, according to the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum(ITLF), a conglomerate of recognised Kuki-Zo tribes in the district.
The police have confirmed the death of one tribal person and injuries to another.