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ANI spreads fake news in Manipur sexual assault case, accuses Abdul Hilmi

Two months after the horrific incident in Manipur where two Kuki-Zo women were paraded naked, molested and allegedly gang-raped, the state police initiated action after outrage over the video of the incident that surfaced on social media, on Wednesday, June 19.

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The first arrest was made on Thursday, over a month after the FIR was registered in the case. Three more were arrested later in the day.

Huirem Herodas Meitei is allegedly the main accused arrested in the case and was prominently seen in the 26-second clip from the incident.

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However, news agency Asian News International (ANI), often a mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government, shared a misleading tweet that the accused in the case was a Muslim man by the name of Abdul Hilmi.

However, Hilmi was detained by the Manipur police in another district and case, according to a tweet by the Manipur police.

Hilmi, a cadre of the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) from Imphal East, was arrested in another case from the Imphal East district.

The tweet was picked up by several right-wing media outlets and Twitter users. Several news media outlets also shared the story.

However, ANI issued an apology and retracted the misinformation only on Friday hours after it was run by several outlets.

On May 4, the two women were sexually assaulted by a mob of men belonging to the Meitei community in retaliation to a piece of fake news over the rape of women in their community by Kuki men.

A ZERO FIR in the incident was registered on May 18, based on the complaint of the village chief, the women belonged to but was transferred to the relevant police station only on May 21.

And the first arrest was made after outrage on social media over the video with Twitter users demanding answers from the BJP-led state and Central government.

“Four main accused arrested in the Viral Video Case: 03 (three) more main accused of the heinous crime of abduction and gangrape under Nongpok Sekmai PS, Thoubal District have been arrested today. So total 04 (four) persons have been arrested till now,” tweeted the Manipur Police.

Manipur state has been witnessing ethnic clashes since May 3 between the majority of the Meiteis, concentrated in Imphal valley, and the Kukis, occupying the hills. Over 160 people have been killed in the violence so far.

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