A 19-year-old girl who was assaulted in Manipur spoke to The Telegraph on Thursday.
The harrowing account was narrated over the phone a few hours after Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh said that “hundreds of similar cases have taken place”. The chief minister was responding to the question whether he was aware of the May 18 FIR filed after two women were disrobed and paraded on May 4 and one of them was allegedly gang-raped.
“There will be 100 similar FIRs here. Don’t have to hear allegations. You have to see the ground reality. Hundreds of similar cases have taken place. That is why the Internet has been shut. For one case, you all... but I condemn it. This is a crime against humanity. We have arrested one person and we will also apprehend the others involved as per the law of the land,” Singh told the India Today news channel.
The student, who studies at a healthcare institute in Manipur, said she was also assaulted on May 4 by a mob belonging to the Meitei community.
Excerpts from the conversation with the girl, who is now living in the Kuki-dominated Churachandpur district:
Our chief minister said on Thursday that there is absolutely no place for such heinous acts in society. I don’t know why he is saying all these things now. Is it only because he saw the viral video?
How many videos of atrocities against women need to surface for the chief minister to admit that a section of women has been under attack only because of their ethnicity?
Whatever he (Biren) has said today (Thursday) is meaningless to me as I have been waiting for justice for 65 days after lodging an FIR, in which I had described how I was abused and assaulted by around 150 armed men and women who had raided our institute around 4pm on May 4.
I lodged the first “zero FIR” (which can be registered with any police station irrespective of the place of occurrence) at Uttam Nagar police station in Delhi after I was released from AIIMS (the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in the national capital), where I had been taken for treatment after I spent a few days at a hospital in Imphal.
I returned to Manipur and again lodged another zero FIR, at Churachandpur police station on May 30.
Based on my account, several charges such as grievous hurt by a dangerous weapon, outraging modesty of a woman, kidnapping or abduction for murder, assault with intent to dishonour a person and acts by several persons with a common intent were filed against unknown persons in the two FIRs.
Both these FIRs were transferred to the police station that has jurisdiction over the institute where I study.
No one has contacted me to record my statement, although I was for several days at a hospital that was barely a few metres from the police station in Imphal. Even today.
So when our CM is talking about the police swinging into action, I know he doesn’t mean it.
I am still bearing the stigma of what happened to me on May 4 after the gang raided the dormitory of our college. They checked the identity cards to zero in on the Kuki students out of the 90-odd at the dormitory.
Ten of us were present but two were rescued by the police and six others escaped.
My friend and I were caught and identified by the gang, made up of men belonging to Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun (radicalised Meitei youths) and some women.
For over half an hour, these men kicked us around like kids playing with a football. Groups of men were jumping on us.... I am at a loss for words to describe what happened.
I can never forget the screams from the women who were enjoying the assault on us and were prodding and provoking the men to kill us.
Before I fell unconscious, I could hear some of them discussing whether I was still alive. They left us, probably because they took us for dead.
I regained consciousness in the ICU of the JNIMS (Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal) and I was told that cops had picked me up from the roadside and brought me there.
Some of my friends and family members then took me to Delhi and got me admitted to AIIMS.
I had several external and internal injuries. But thank God, I did not end up with any permanent disability. After my release from AIIMS, I stayed with a relative for follow-up treatment before returning to Manipur and going back to my village.
My dream of having a career in healthcare is over as I can’t even think of returning to Imphal, which has all the facilities for higher education.
A huge amount of money has been spent on my treatment and my family is in great distress.
I am still in trauma as the stitches all over my body remind me of what those men did to me. My friend is also going through a similar ordeal.
If you visit the relief camps in Churachandpur, you will meet hundreds of women who will share similar stories of abuse and assault that started in a planned manner on May 3. We hear that such crimes are still continuing but on a lower scale.
I do not have any expectations from this chief minister.
But I have a question for him.
As healthcare students, the first lesson we learnt was not to discriminate between patients on the basis of religion or caste or any other parameter. The chief minister took the oath to serve and protect all Manipuris, irrespective of their religion, caste and ethnicity.
Was he ever loyal to the oath?
He owes an answer to all the abused and assaulted women of Manipur.