Viral Kuki women’s video: Top primetime anchors give it a miss, it’s frontpage news in print

The Print first reported the story on July 12, while Scroll confirmed details at 8.57 pm last night.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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The whole of yesterday, a video trended on social media, showing two Kuki women being paraded naked by a mob in Manipur.

The women’s plight had first been reported by The Print on July 12, among other stories of rape in the state ever since the ethnic violence began on May 3. Newslaundry had highlighted Print’s reportage in a media scrutiny column on July 13. A Newsclick report on June 1 had also described brutalities against women in the state.

But when the video grew wings on Twitter yesterday, Scroll confirmed the case too. At 8.57 pm, the news portal published a report containing an interview with one of the women in the video. She said the assault had taken place on May 4. 

Minutes later, primetime shows unrolled across TV channels – and no surprises for guessing that most of them did not deem the Manipur video newsworthy enough to discuss. 

Arnab Goswami and Sudhir Chaudhary, for instance, decided to focus on Seema Haider’s love story. Chaudhary was busy celebrating his one-year anniversary in Aaj Tak and even got the channel’s AI anchor to question him on such important things as why he hadn’t taken a single day off since he joined Aaj Tak. “Aap thake nahin?” she asked him. “Don’t you get tired?”

Goswami wanted “Seema to go back”. “I am not buying this love story,” he thundered. On Times Now, it took a Bharatiya Rastra Samiti panelist to highlight the Manipur video on Navika Kumar’s primetime show, whose record on highlighting women’s issues is stellar as we know from her exclusive access to Rhea Chakrobarty’s WhatsApp chats.

Anchors like News 18’s Amish Devgan, who won’t be questioning Amit Shah on Manipur anytime soon, of course, woke up to the video this morning, only to tweet that “Lutyens Lobby must not politicise the issue”. Little wonder that his most prominent contribution to journalism are the memes in his name.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders slammed the prime minister’s “silence and inaction”. The Congress said it would move an adjournment motion on day one of the monsoon session of Parliament today. The central government’s response was to ask Twitter and other social media platforms to take down the video.

At the time of publishing this report, there was no statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah. Soon after, at 10.39 am today, ANI quoted Modi as saying “no guilty will be spared”. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said the Supreme Court was “deeply disturbed” and would take action if the government did not.

According to The Print, the Manipur police have now arrested one person in connection with the case.

We checked leading English newspapers this morning to see if the story made it to the front pages. 

The Hindu in Delhi had the story on page one, with more details on page 10. It said a zero FIR had been lodged on May 18, one of the women had been raped, and that her father and brother had been killed by the mob.

The story was on the front page of The Times of India in Delhi as well, with a quote from union minister Smiti Irani on the incident being “condemnable and inhuman”. 

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Indian Express’s front page headline said “Outrage over video of women paraded naked & raped in Manipur, probe on”. The report confirmed there has been no arrest in the case so far.

A snippet on page one of Hindustan Times in Delhi said the video clip is “fanning fresh tensions”.

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And the story was the lead in The Telegraph in Kolkata. The headline read “Depth of depravity in Manipur”.

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“The video also calls into question the business-as-usual facade maintained by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has found time for foreign tours and political trips within the country but has not yet even spoken in public on the Manipur conflict, let alone visit the state.”

Newslaundry had interviewed a survivor of the Manipur violence whose mother and brother had been killed in May. “My brother was perhaps unconscious,” she said. “His head was dripping with blood. The crowd was cheering, clapping and celebrating as if it was some sort of an achievement. I could not help.” Watch the interview here.

Also see
article imageStories Big Media missed: Sexual assault in Manipur and, as always, climate reporting

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