The voices against the Manipur violence, especially the gangrape of women and atrocities perpetrated against them, are echoing all over the country, and Goa, too, has stamped its dissent.
On Friday, July 28, 2023, several women and rights groups came together to condemn the violence in one voice at the Institute Menezes Braganza in Panjim.
Adv Albertina Almeida
They read out the letters addressed to the prime minister, home minister and Manipur chief minister condemning the violence and calling for action against the perpetrators.
Advocate Albertina Almeida from the Citizens' Initiatives for Communal Harmony said they have managed to get 300 signatories to the letter. "We are in the process of posting these letters and also getting more signatories. People and groups from all walks of life have condemned the Manipur violence."
Almeida said what is seen in Manipur is what happened during the Gujarat communal violence where women faced the brunt. "We recall the riots in Goa's Curchorem-Sanvordem where women from the minority community were rendered vulnerable and even compelled to run into the forests as their houses were being ransacked and looted."
"However, timely response by civil society prevented the escalation of the violence. But in the case of Manipur, the shutting down of channels of mass communication like the internet helped further suppress the situation and made it reach gross and ugly levels," she asserted.
"Slogans like Beti Bachao Beti Padao have little meaning for the women in these situations and are reduced to an empty shell," she added.
Albertina said the response of the National Human Rights Commission of India was lukewarm to the Manipur crisis despite reports stating that the state and national authorities did nothing to stop the violence from getting out of hand.
She said that even though some arrests have been made, the wheels of justice are turning slowly. "The perpetrators of the violence and rapists of women were roaming free, emboldening them further," she added.
Holding back tears, Maria Angelica D'Souza of Saad Aangan Group rued that during such incidents of violence, women are treated as objects and used the way men want to.
Vanaja J from Goa Domestic Workers Union also condemned the incident.
Retired teacher Lisa Pires and writer and architectural historian Amita Kanekar were also present.
The letters addressed to the PM, HM and Manipur CM also maintained that human rights institutions such as the National Commission for Women, which ought to have reacted strongly and sharply to these incidents of rape and violence, have continued to remain silent, or at best have merely written enquiry letters to the authorities and are still waiting for replies.
"It appears that these institutions have been appropriated by the state, and now have pronounced political allegiance to the ruling party, thereby making them complicit with the state in the violence through their silence and omission. Their silence as well as the silence of all government authorities concerned is deafening," the letters stated.