top of page

Manipur Ethnic Violence: A Grim Tale of Rumours and Fake News

Fake news triggered recent violence in Manipur in India

India: Officials from various security agencies, who have been closely monitoring the situation in Manipur, attribute the recent surge of ethnic violence that erupted recently to rampant rumours and fake news. The tragic incident in Kangpokpi district, where two women were brutally assaulted and paraded naked, was just one of the many sexual attacks that occurred in the wake of a misleading image circulating in the Imphal valley. The image falsely claimed that the victim had been murdered by tribals in Churachandpur, whereas, later investigations revealed that it was a picture of a woman murdered in New Delhi. Nevertheless, the damage had been done, and the valley witnessed horrifying scenes that left the nation appalled.

On the same day, barely 30 km away, two more women in their 20s were brutally raped and murdered, further fuelling the turmoil. The lawlessness and chaos brought about by the circulation of this fake picture prompted the state government to take drastic measures and shut down the Internet on May 3.

However, the suspension of the Internet has been met with opposition from some parties and activists, leading to the Supreme Court's involvement. The court, on July 17, asked the Manipur government to address their grievances before the high court in response to its earlier order on limited Internet restoration in the state.

Security agencies engaged in quelling the unrest in Manipur have conducted an analysis, which reveals a concerning lack of control over the dissemination of fake or one-sided news, even by local newspapers. One instance cited was a prominent daily reporting that tribal men, armed with weapons, were planning an attack on the majority community in Kwatha village of Chandel district. However, it turned out to be false, and the police urged for more cautious reporting of sensitive cases to avoid exacerbating tensions.

Videos with misleading subtitles have also played a role in instigating violence. One such video showing tribal youths marching in Churachandpur was misinterpreted, leading to raised tempers in the Imphal valley. The actual content of the video was a demand for a separate administration, ending with a tribal hymn, but the subtitles added an inflammatory twist.

Another piece of fake news was that some tribals had set fire to a religious place called Kongba Maru Laiphamlen. Security agencies later verified that no such damage had occurred. Clashes between ethnic groups did take place, resulting in two tribal members being injured, but it subsided after the false news was debunked.

Another video, showing dead bodies on the ground and claiming them to be members of the majority community killed by tribals, further fuelled the tension. However, the truth was that these dead individuals were members of the majority community who had attempted to burn a tribal village and were killed in retaliation.

In an earlier incident, a video circulated with a claim that it showed a tribal woman being brutally tortured by the majority community. However, it was later clarified that the video was from Tamu town in Myanmar, unrelated to the ethnic clashes in Manipur.

The pervasive spread of rumours has led to destructive consequences, such as the incident where a vehicle belonging to Manipur Police's Inspector General (CID) was set on fire due to a false rumour about tribals being escorted out of the Imphal valley. Despite police intervention and arrests, the situation remains volatile.

The majority community has also been influenced by fake news, as evidenced by protests in the national capital showing a woman from their community being targeted by tribals. However, it was later revealed that the picture was of an Arunachal Pradesh woman who had been domestically abused.

Given the relentless rumour mills at work, officials fear it will be a long time before the Internet can be fully restored in the state, as the first step towards normalcy requires the restoration of sanity, something that still seems distant.

1 opmerking

08 aug. 2023

In an age dominated by information dissemination at the speed of light, the recent surge of ethnic violence in Manipur, serves as a stark reminder of the pernicious impact of rumors and fake news.

The Trump-Hillary campaign's fake news exposure highlighted its toxic nature globally. Mr.TJS George' in his article in “point of view” on 29-01-2017 in The New Indian Express ,Sunday Standard anticipated this, as fake news bloomed. News, once a semblance of truth, now embraces falsehoods.

Manipur echoes urgency: misinformation fuels violence and erodes trust.

In today's digital age, collective efforts are vital. Media, individuals, tech must promote critical thinking, fact-checking, media literacy. Civil society discerns credibility, fosters open dialogue, resists sensationalism.

Safety amidst fake news is attainable.…

bottom of page