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Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact

Regional and International NGOs strongly condemn the gruesome killing of Indigenous Karbi Girl in Assam, Northeast India

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), Network of Indigenous Women in Asia (NIWA) and Asia Indigenous Youth Platform (AIYP) strongly condemn the gruesome killing of an Indigenous girl, Sumila Ronghangpi, in Assam, Northeast India. It defies human conscience to have murdered the innocent Indigenous girl who was allegedly tortured, impregnated, and burnt alive to death. She was just 12 years old, employed as domestic help at an affluent, high caste family of mainstream society at Nagaon district in the state of Assam, Northeast India. She comes from West Karbi Anglong district, Kudam Ronghang village, and belongs to the extremely poor Karbi Indigenous community. On the fateful day of 22 April, Sumila Ronghangpi’s charred body was discovered by a neighbor who alerted the police. Subsequently, prima facie case was registered, and the victim’s employer father and son duo were arrested on the suspicion of murder, which they denied.

Circulated news claims that the post-mortem report did not confirm pregnancy theory and rape, which is contested by many organizations seeking justice for Sumila. The Nagaon Karbi Student’s Union (NKSU) has claimed the evidence to prove how the alleged perpetrators procured medicine to terminate the pregnancy. NKSU said the witness is ready to depose before the court. They even claimed to have learned from the neighbor of the culprits that this is not the first time, in earlier instances the culprits faced sexual exploitation charges against the maid. The matter was hushed up by influencing authority. The matter should be investigated properly considering these serious allegations to bring out the truth.

Regional and International NGOs strongly condemn this senseless act of violence against the Indigenous girl and demands that culprits be convicted according to their crime, which will also help deter future crimes like this. This horrific incident has thrown light to vulnerable situation of poor Indigenous Peoples, who are the targets of such orchestrated crime. As per the study report from Karbi Human Rights Watch (KHRW) , there are around 5000 Karbi young and underage girls working as domestic help in many adjoining districts of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council. As alleged by Karbi social and human rights organizations, many of the girls undergo similar abuse and cruelty. Most of the crimes are unreported and muzzled as the poor families and victims are intimidated, and unable to fight legal battles. They become mute spectators of a vicious cycle of
exploitation and torture.

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