Manipur Violence Exposes BJP’s Culture of Deflection, Deception and Diversion

Manipur Violence

A disturbing incident was recently reported in Manipur, where two women from the Christian Kuki-zomi tribe were publicly stripped, paraded naked, and allegedly assaulted by a mob from the majority Meitei community. This incident was captured on video which went viral, sparking outrage.

The incident occurred on May 4th in Kangpokpi district, according to the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), though police claim it took place elsewhere. It came amidst tensions between the Meitei community and the Kuki-zomi tribe who are recognized as a Scheduled Tribe. The Meiteis have been demanding similar status. Experts cite simmering communal tensions as the backdrop, though the specific motives behind this particular incident require further investigation.

Despite an initial complaint in May, authorities only took action after the video surfaced over two months later. This delayed response has shaken faith in the institutions meant to deliver justice and protect vulnerable communities. Even India’s National Commission for Women was alerted in mid-June yet remained silent.

However, the response from India’s BJP government both at the centre follow an all too familiar pattern of deflection and false equivalence that prevents justice and shows lack of sympathy and compassion.

Deflection, Deception and Diversion

In the aftermath of this appalling crime gaining national attention, the BJP-led governments at the state and federal levels responded with their standard tactics of false equivalence, scapegoating, and exploiting divisions, rather than ensuring justice. This is their standard playbook to escape accountability every time questions are raised for their failures in governance, violence, and human rights violations.

First, they deflect by inaccurately shifting focus to opposition-led states, despite no reasonable comparison to be made. After Prime Minister Modi finally addressed the Manipur assault over 2 months later, he distastefully invoked unrelated incidents in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh governed by opposition parties. His comments were immediately amplified by BJP leaders and media allies, spreading misinformation and propagating false equivalences.

Second, they made false equivalences between incomparable events to normalize their failures. BJP spokespersons highlighted previous cases of mob violence and rape of women across opposition ruled states, even though such cherry-picked incidents lack meaningful connection to the organized, targeted brutality against minorities seen in the Manipur crimes. They drew parallels to evoke communal passions from prior incidents rather than engaging with the specifics of this pre-planned assault on Christian Kuki-zomi  tribal women in Manipur.

Third, they tried to sow religious divisions as a distraction, even when wholly unrelated to the issue at hand. With the help of mainstream media outlet ANI, which reported the involvement of a Muslim man (later retracted and apologized for, but the damage was done), right-wing social media handles injected anti-Muslim and anti-Christian rhetoric in posts about the Manipur incident according to critics. They allegedly exploited tensions between Manipur’s different ethnic groups to breed further disharmony and polarization for potential political gain. The perpetrators were reportedly from the majority Meitei community, yet fake news was amplified falsely showed Muslim men as perpetrators, as per reports.

While such deflection may provide temporary political cover, it prevents the government from acknowledging and correcting policy failures. Worse still, it breeds an immature and hateful political culture devoid of truth, compassion and accountability. While the Manipur incident exemplifies these tactics in action, the playbook has been frequently deployed by the BJP regime when facing criticism and public anger since coming to power under PM Modi.

The brutal Kathua rape case saw BJP leaders fuel anti-Muslim sentiment and support Hindu suspects, forcing their own ministers to resign after public outcry. When questioned on the premature release of the men who gang raped Bilkis Bano and murdered her family in Gujarat 2002 riots, the BJP leader Chandrasingh Raulji dismissed her appeal against it and valid concerns for her safety and described the men as “brahmins” and “sanskari” who had completed jail terms. This was amplified by right wing trolls with an attempt to communalize and politicize a clear miscarriage of justice.

When Adani- Hindenburg saga unfolded the digital troll army of the right wing tried to shield both Adani and Modi by discrediting the Hindenburg report as a Hit and run case motivated by profit and obfuscating the public anger by harping on nationalism.

Across cases from COVID-19 mismanagement to inflation woes, communal violence to economic crisis, the BJP has relied on denial, false equivalences, obstruction of justice and polarization. But no amount of deflection can obscure the lack of leadership India needs.

The frequent deployment of distracting ploys and the leveraging of unfortunate events for partisan benefits indicates an underdeveloped political climate lacking in transparency, empathy, and responsibility. It prevents the government from acknowledging and correcting policy failures that allow human rights violations and social problems to fester and grow. BJP government/s must cease exploiting the horrific tragedy in Manipur for partisan benefit and impose President’s Rule to restore order. They should unequivocally condemn the crime, swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, and provide adequate compensation and rehabilitation for survivors.

For India to progress, the government must be transparent and take ownership of failures, demonstrating a willingness to evolve. Without accountability, there is no justice. And without justice, wounds cannot heal, trust cannot be restored, and progress stalls.

Sadly, rather than unequivocally condemning the appalling acts of violence and alleged rape by the Meitei community mob against Kuki-zomi tribal women, BJP leaders have seemingly relied on false equivalence and deflection. Instead of defusing tensions between the Meitei and Kuki-zomi communities in this sensitive context, BJP leaders appear to have exploited the divisions for political advantage through alleged misinformation and communal rhetoric according to critics. This approach of the party risks being seen as condoning the violence inflicted on the vulnerable Kuki-zomi women and community. They stand accused of sowing religious divisions and spreading misinformation by opponents, following their purported standard playbook for evading responsibility.

The time has come for the BJP to abandon its politics of diversion and polarization. The path forward must be paved with truth, inclusion, and progress guided by our constitutional values. India’s social cohesion and future prosperity now depends on embracing accountability, rejecting communalism, and demanding better from those in power. The BJP regime must recognize their duty to meet this critical juncture in India’s history with integrity, not deflection.

Abdul Moid is a PhD Scholar at Maulana Azad National Urdu University in the Department of Political Science. His area of research interest is in the field of Identity negotiation and Muslim Identity. He holds a postgraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad and a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Political Science from Banaras Hindu University. Prior to his university education, Abdul Moid received his early education in the Madrasa system.

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