India news agency misreports the man arrested in May 4 Manipur incident is Muslim

By: Soham Shah
July 21 2023

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India news agency misreports the man arrested in May 4 Manipur incident is Muslim


The Verdict False

ANI falsely reported that a man called Abdul Hilim had been arrested over the sexual assault incident. However, Hilim was arrested in a separate case.

Claim ID 96b26a11

(Trigger Warning: This story contains descriptions of distressing visuals, and mentions of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.)


On Wednesday, July 19, a video of women belonging to the Kuki-Zomi community being stripped, paraded naked and sexually harassed by a mob of men on May 4 this year emerged on social media, creating widespread uproar. This incident took place just days after ethnic clashes broke out between the Meitei and Kuki communities in India's northeastern state. 

Amid the outrage over the incident, Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh on Thursday announced the arrest of two accused, followed by two more later in the day, according to the Manipur Police. While one accused was identified as Huirem Herodas Meitei, the other three names have not officially been released yet.

News agency ANI on Thursday evening tweeted that a man by the name of Abdul Hilim had been arrested in connection with the sexual assault case. “Manipur viral video case | One cadre of People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) Pro, namely Md Ibungo alias Abdul Hilim (38) of Imphal East, was arrested by Imphal East District Police. A total of three main accused of the heinous crime of abduction and gangrape under Thoubal District have been arrested today: Manipur Police,” the agency published at 9:47 p.m. on July 20.

While ANI later deleted their post, news channel NDTV shared a tweet based on this information, quoting ANI. NDTV deleted their tweet, but news websites Outlook and Prabhat Khabar still have reports based on ANI’s tweet available online at the time of writing, claiming that Hilim was one of the men arrested in connection with the May 4 incident.

Multiple right-wing accounts with a history of spreading misinformation also shared their own communal version of events, including Rishi Bagree, Tajinder Singh Bagga, and 'Mr Sinha.' “Abdul Khan, the main accused of Manipur case arrested by Manipur police,” wrote Bagree, quote-tweeting Manipur Police’s tweet about Hilim, as did Bagga. 

“Abdul HiIim has been arrested by Manipur police in the #Manipur viral video case. This is the time when seculars will slowly stop talking about it,” the account called 'Mr. Sinha' claimed.

However, Hilim has not been arrested in connection to the sexual assault case. Manipur Police posted a tweet about his arrest in a separate and unrelated case. ANI linked the two, lending a false communal spin to the incident.

In Fact

We found a tweet from the official account of the Manipur police from Thursday evening, saying that Hilim, a cadre of the PREPAK Progressive group, had been arrested by Imphal East district police. However, this tweet did not mention abduction, gang rape, or the viral video.

A separate tweet by Manipur police posted just minutes before on Thursday evening said, “Four main accused arrested in the Viral Video Case: Three more main accused of the heinous crime of abduction and gangrape have been arrested today. So total four persons have been arrested till now.” This tweet did not mention Hilim. A July 20 press note from the Manipur police relayed the same information on the arrests in Thoubal district. 

In a separate point, the press release states that Hilim was arrested in Imphal East. This further shows the incidents were unrelated and in separate locations. 

Additionally, both the tweet by Manipur police about the four arrests and the press note mention that the concerned police station with regard to the sexual assault incident is Nongpok Sekmai in Thoubal district. As stated, Hilim had been arrested by the East Imphal district police.

A senior police official in Thoubal, who declined to be named, confirmed to Logically Facts that none of the four main accused arrested were Muslim.

ANI’s record of misreporting

On Friday morning, 12 hours after posting the misinformation about Hilim’s arrest in the case, ANI posted a note about the story. They issued a clarification and apology, saying that the tweet had been “inadvertently posted.” “This was based on an erroneous reading of tweets posted by the Manipur police as it was confused with an earlier tweet regarding other arrests made by it in relation to the incidents shown in the viral video,” the news agency added.

This is not the first time ANI has misreported and later retracted its story. Earlier in July, ANI published a false story with the headline "Manipur violence: Indigenous Tribal Leader Forum extends apology to Kuki Zo people for "misguidance, conflict with Meitei people." This was reportedly based on a press release falsely attributed to the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum and called out by the group as fake. ANI later retracted the story, saying that the source of the story was "questionable."

The Verdict

Thoubal Police have confirmed that none of the four accused arrested by the Manipur police in connection with the May 4 incident are Muslim. Contrary to ANI’s reporting, Abdul Hilim was arrested in an unrelated matter. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false. 

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