Manipur militants use rape to keep villagers under siege (India)
New Delhi: At least 25 rapes have been reported in recent months in Manipur where separatist militants are resorting to rape as a weapon to terrorise villagers in far-flung areas, says a media report.
The incidents of rape have been reported from villages in the Tipaimukh sub-division of Churachandpur district, where militants of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) have kept villagers of the Hmar tribe under a virtual siege from November last year, the North East Sun magazine said, quoting an NGO.
"The number of rape victims has reached 25. The number is expected to increase. However, the sense of fear, insecurity and shame has been refraining them from speaking out," the magazine quoted Lalthansang Pulamte, assistant secretary of the NGO Sinlung Indigenous People's Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) as saying.
Narrating her horrific experience, a 17-year-old rape victim said: "I was raped continuously by three militants. I bled for two days. I am afraid I may get pregnant. Three militants also raped my younger sister who is just 15 years. She is not in her normal senses today. She has not been eating and sleeping since then."
According to villagers, the militants spread out in the hill areas of Tipaimukh following a crackdown on their camps by the Indian Army in neighbouring Chandel district in March-April 2004.
The militants started occupying and annexing the villages in Tipaimukh and even planted landmines to fight the army and rival organisations.
"The militants belong to UNLF and KCP. They demand everything and expect us to deliver in five minutes' time. If we fail, we face the brunt," said a villager, Vala Hmar.
"Militants used to herd all the villagers together at any time, only to be severely beaten and tortured. While doing so, they pick and choose our teenaged sisters and even young married women, whom they rape."
The poor villagers - troubled by poor communication links, absence of a public distribution system and inadequate medical facilities - are frustrated at the lack of security arrangements by the authorities, said the magazine.
"Things have gone beyond the limit. We are moving the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) as well as the National Commission for Women. But the people in distress need immediate and urgent help," said SIPHRO secretary Lalremlien Neitham.
Von: 7.3.2006, NewKerala.com