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NEW DELHI: Thousands, mostly women, staged a mass sit-in in Manipur state in northeastern India on Saturday (22 July) to demand the immediate arrest of those responsible for the gruesome assault on two women who were paraded naked.

Leaders of religious and women’s groups addressed some 15,000 demonstrators and also called for the removal of the state’s top elected leader, Biren Singh, where more than 130 people have been killed since violence between the two dominant ethnic groups erupted in early May.

The protest took place in the town of Chulachanpur, 65 kilometers south of the state capital Imphal.

A video showing the assault on a woman sparked mass outrage and was widely shared on social media late Wednesday despite the internet being largely blocked and journalists barred from remote states.

The footage shows two naked women surrounded by a group of young men, groped by their genitals, and dragged into a field.

Police said the assault occurred on May 4, the day after the violence began. A police complaint filed on May 18 said the two women were part of a family where two men were killed in a mob attack.

The complaint alleges rape and murder by “unidentified criminals.”

The state government announced Saturday the arrest of a fifth suspect. State Police General Directorate Rajiv Singh said police were conducting house searches to arrest other suspects.

Manipur has largely been the scene of a civil war that began when the Christian Kuki tribe protested the demands of the mostly Hindu Meati tribe to guarantee them special status and a share of the government’s work, allowing them to purchase land in the hills inhabited by the Kuki and other tribes.

Manipur, a state of 3.2 million people tucked away in the mountains on the border of India and Myanmar, is now divided into two ethnic zones, but clashes continue despite military presence.

More than 60,000 people have taken refuge in overcrowded relief camps.

Nearly 400 men and women protested in India’s capital with similar demands.

They held placards that read, “We demand action against the perpetrators” and “Resign, Viren Singh.” Massive protests against mob violence against women in Manipur, India

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