Taking strong note of the numerous rape cases in the state, the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), a Manipuri militant group, has announced that it would institute an anti-rape task force to check further occurrences of the heinous crime.
Issuing a statement on behalf of the KCP, Sanakhomba Meitei, the group’s Publicity Secretary claimed that its anti-rape task force was necessary because of the failure of the existing Indian law to provoke fear amongst potential rapists. Illustrating his point, the KCP spokesperson cited the seven rapes that took place in the state even after the four rapists of a 40-year-old chilly trader were awarded life imprisonment for the crime they committed in 2012. The KCP further claimed that the increasing cases of rape only implied that there was no use of the Indian justice-delivery system in Manipur and hence, the party had decided to intervene in such cases. Meanwhile, threatening rapists with punishments far more severe than those given under Indian laws, the Publicity Secretary informed that the KCP task force would work in conjunction with the wish of the public to punish rapists in future although the mode of punishment would be decided by the party.
The announcement of the KCP comes amidst the demand of many activists and organisations for a more stringent rape law, including capital punishments for sexual offenders, to rein in the burgeoning number of rapes in the country. Human rights groups and anti-rape activists have repeatedly termed the existing legal provisions against rape as highly inadequate and ineffective. Despite the more stringent Anti-Rape Bill passed by the Parliament following the gang rape case of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi, many people, citing the recent gang rape of a photo journalist in Mumbai, still feel that the laws against sexual crimes are fairly mild to prevent further rape.
Some in Manipur feel that the KCP task force could check criminals and other sexual offenders if implemented because of people’s fear of the group’s cadres who usually don’t provide an opportunity for self-defence. In the past, militants have often dealt with sexual offenders and perverts with extreme severity, regularly awarding capital punishments to rapists without much hesitation. However, militant activities in the state have been fairly restricted in recent times due to the intensification of counterinsurgency operations by the government over the past decade. As a result, moral policing from underground groups in Manipur have often remained empty threats.