A day after a video emerged of a Meitei mob parading two Kuki women naked in Manipur, Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Thursday seemed to suggest that there have been many similar cases. He was speaking in a telephone interview to India Today.

On being asked whether he knew about the first information report filed in the case on May 18, Singh said, “there are hundreds of similar FIRs here”. It is not clear if the chief minister meant hundreds of cases of sexual assault specifically or violence in general.

The reporter then asked Singh about how the chief minister of a state could be unaware of such a serious case of sexual assault. To this, Singh said that the focus should not be on the allegations and the “ground realities” should be considered.

“Hundreds of similar cases have taken place,” Singh said . “That is why we have banned the internet.”

Singh said that the incident that came to light on Wednesday was condemnable and “a crime against humanity”. He added that “efforts are being made to apprehend those involved.”

The sexual assault on the Kuki women took place near B Phainom village in Kangpokpi on May 4, a day after ethnic clashes first erupted between Meitei and Kuki communities. One of the women was “brutally gangraped” as well, according to a police complaint.

On May 18, the police filed a case of murder, abduction and gangrape against “unknown armed miscreants”. The first arrest, however, was only made after the video of the assault was widely circulated on social media on Wednesday night.

After the video emerged, Opposition parties criticised the BJP government in Manipur and at the Centre for failing to contain the violence. They demanded a discussion on Manipur in Parliament, leading to the disruption of proceedings and eventually adjournment for the day.

The outrage against the assault also compelled Narendra Modi to speak about the Manipur violence for the first time in 76 days. The assault had shamed the entire country, the prime minister said, and urged chief ministers of all states to ensure that such crimes do not occur.