India's top court aghast at ethnic violence, 'breakdown of law' in Manipur

India's top court aghast at ethnic violence, 'breakdown of law' in Manipur

Supreme Court summons state's police chief to explain tardy probe next week

By Shuriah Niazi

NEW DELHI (AA) – India’s Supreme Court came down heavily on police of the northeastern state of Manipur on Tuesday, calling investigation on recent ethnic violence as "lethargic," and that there was an "absolute breakdown of law and constitutional machinery."

The court asked the state's top police official to appear in person next Monday and explain why the force had been tardy in pursuing the cases of violence.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, reviewed petitions on the violence, including those from two women who appeared in a viral video showing a mob molesting and parading them naked.

The incident is said to have occurred in May when the violence began, but only came to light in June.

According to legal news portal Live Law, the court was shocked to note that cases were not registered for nearly three months after the occurrences, and only a few arrests were made.

“Based on the preliminary data, it does prima facie appear that the investigation has been tardy. There has been a considerable lapse between the occurrence and the registration of FIRs, recording of witness statements, and even the arrests are few and far between,” said the bench.

Violence broke out in the state in May following a court ruling that directed the state government to submit recommendations for including the Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribe category, which enraged the state’s tribal population.

The mostly Hindu Meitei people are the dominant ethnic group of Manipur.

Over 140 people have died in the ethnic violence since May 3, while thousands have been displaced in the state.

Disruption also continues in the Indian parliament over Manipur violence. The proceedings at the lower house, known as Lok Sabha, were adjourned for the day after opposition parties protested, demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation.

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