By: Umme Kulsum
August 2 2023
The photo was captured during a rally held against the use of drugs and alleged poppy cultivation in Manipur.
The emergence of a video showing two Kuki-Zo women being paraded naked and sexually assaulted by a Meitei mob in the northeastern state of Manipur in India in July led to nationwide outrage. The Manipur police made the first arrest in the case on July 20, a day after the video emerged online and went viral. So far, seven people have been arrested in connection to the incident, which took place on May 4.
As Manipur continues to boil, months after ethnic clashes between the Kuki and Meitiei communities broke out in early May, misinformation is still fuelling tensions in the state.
A picture of a public demonstration is currently being shared on social media with the claim that it shows a protest by Meities against the arrest made in the Manipur viral video case.
The image shared on Twitter (now called X) shows thousands of people in a rally, with some in the front holding a large banner. A user sharing the photo wrote, "Protest rally in Manipur by the majoritarian Meitei group against the arrest of those who had publicly paraded, molested & sexually assaulted the Kuki women. Don't these people have the humanity and Conscience to be part of this inhuman, unethical rally? The land of Buddha shed tears." The post gathered over 141,000 views and more than 180 retweets at the time of publishing.
However, the image is not related to the Manipur viral video case.
The text on the banner seen in the image in question reads, "Mass Rally against Chin-Kuki narco-terrorism – By COCOMI." There is no mention of any arrests made in the viral video case.
Logically Facts also performed a reverse image search and found a report by Imphal Times, a Manipur-based regional news outlet, with the viral image. Published on July 29, the report's headline read, "COCOMI's Rally Strengthens Stand Against Chin Kuki Narco-Terrorists; Warns MLAs And Ministers Of Serious Consequences If Fails To Take Resolutions For Protection Of Manipur At State Assembly Before August 5."
According to the report, the viral image is of a massive rally organized by the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) against what the latter calls "Chin-Kuki narco-terrorism."
It has long been alleged by the Meities that "illegal Kuki Chin migrants" and "armed militants from neighboring Myanmar" are involved in poppy cultivation in the Kuki-dominated hills of Manipur, a Deccan Herald report said.
The viral image was also carried on July 29 in another report by Deccan Herald and an article on Wion News. According to the reports, nearly 2 lakh people from different communities and leaders of various organizations participated in the rally. Protesters urged the end of the current conflict and the "extermination" of "foreign Chin-Kuki narco-terrorists." They also rejected Kukis' demand for a separate government and insisted on implementing the contentious National Register of Citizens, or NRC, a report by The Times of India said.
On July 29, Imphal-based news channel TOM TV also covered the massive demonstration and posted a video on its official YouTube channel. The banner with the text "Mass Rally Against Chin-Kuki Narco-Terrorism," can be spotted in TOM TV's video report in the first 25 seconds. The video title read, "COCOMI'S MASS RALLY AGAINST KUKI NARCO TERRORISTS HELD."
An image of a demonstration against alleged poppy cultivation in Manipur is being used to claim a large number of Meiteis gathered to protest the arrests made in connection with the sexual assault of two Kuki-Zo women on May 4. Therefore, we mark the claim false.