In a significant move, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has deployed a team of 53 officers to investigate the cases of violence in Manipur.
This team consists of 29 women officers, marking a unique mobilisation where a substantial number of women officers are simultaneously involved in the investigation.
The team includes three Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs) - Lovely Katiyar, Nirmala Devi, and Mohit Gupta - along with Superintendent of Police Rajveer.
They will report to Joint Director Ghanshyam Upadhyay, who will supervise the overall probe.
The cases being investigated by the CBI may reportedly fall under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
These cases can be probed by officers holding the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
There are two Additional Superintendents of Police and six Deputy Superintendents of Police who are part of the 53-member team.
Due to the limitations on the role of Deputy Superintendents of Police as supervisory officers in such cases, the agency has sent three DIGs and one SP to supervise and monitor the investigations.
In addition, the team also includes 16 inspectors and 10 sub-inspectors.
When a large number of cases are handed over to the CBI, the agency usually relies on the respective state to provide additional manpower for the investigations.
However, in the case of Manipur, the central agency will attempt to minimise the involvement of local officers to avoid any allegations of bias in the investigation, PTI reported citing officials.
The agency has already registered eight cases, including two related to women being stripped and paraded by a mob on 4 May.
The video of this incident went viral on social media on 16 July, causing widespread outrage.
According to officials, the CBI is planning to investigate an additional nine cases related to the violence in Manipur. This will bring the total number of cases being probed by the agency to 17.
However, the central agency's investigation will reportedly not be limited to these 17 cases alone.
Any other case related to crimes against women or sexual assault will also be given priority and referred to the probe agency.
The probe agency is expected to take on another case of alleged sexual assault in Churachandpur district of the state.
In the midst of a society divided along ethnic lines, the CBI is faced with the challenge of avoiding bias allegations during the operation in Manipur.
Any involvement of individuals from a particular community is likely to lead to accusations and blame, according to officials.
The central probe agency will transfer all forensic samples to its Central Forensic Science Laboratory located in the national capital.
More than 160 people have lost their lives and several hundred have been injured as a result of the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur.
The violence began on 3 May with a 'Tribal Solidarity March' in the hill districts, organised to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
The population of Manipur is comprised of different ethnic groups. Meiteis, who make up about 53 per cent of the population, primarily reside in the Imphal Valley.
On the other hand, the tribal communities, including Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent of the population and primarily live in the hill districts.
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