I met BJP MLA Vungzagin Valte from the Thanlon constituency in Pherzawl district, a Kuki-Zo-dominated district in Manipur at his rented residence in New Delhi. He met me along with his wife Mainnu Valte.
Other members of the Valte family in particular their son Gousan Valte were out looking for another rented apartment because they were finding it difficult to cope with the expenses at the current rented accommodation due to a paucity of funds because of the huge medical costs over Valte’s medical treatments.
The 61-year third-time legislator from Manipur is now a paralyzed man with a failing memory recovering from his brutal and inhumane attack that happened on May 4th, 2023.
He was attacked by a mob allegedly belonging to Arambai Tenggol – a militant organization from the Meitei community according to Gousan Valte – son of Valte. He was beaten and tortured. The mob left him on the verge of death lying on the road. His resolute mind to survive and faith in God brought him back from the dead even after the doctors at RIMS pronounced him dead.
Valte was not just an MLA from Manipur, he was also the Chief Adviser of the Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh on tribal affairs. His memory fails him now. But he distinctly remembers that he was called to the Chief Minister’s secretariat at 9.30 AM. He left with a government order copy from the Chief Minister’s residence. But he does not remember the contents of the government order now. And the government order on him during the time of his attack by the mob is now missing.
Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh had called Valte to his Chief Minister’s residence on May 4th, 2023 at 9.30 AM. There was violence everywhere and Valte’s own home was also under threat so when he reached CM’s residence, sent his guards back home.
Another Kuki-Zo MLA LM Khaute, post the meeting with CM Biren Singh, told him that while returning, his guards would escort Valte to his home. When they left CM’s residence, the security guards first dropped Khaute to his residence at around 12:30 PM. The same guard party was escorting Valte to his home when they were surrounded by a mob on RIMS road. The two of the Meitei guards ran away when they saw the mob. The angry mob took out Valte’s mobile and other belongings and gave them to the PSO of Valte and told him to go to the nearby police station to tell the police that they caught a Kuki dog and would kill him. It is some kind of open challenge.
Valte and his driver, Thanghoulal, also a Kuki, were taken to a community centre nearby. The Personal Security Officer (PSO), Elangbam Mapu, a Meitei, was spared. It was on the basis of the PSO that a First Information Report has been registered at the Imphal police station for an attempt to murder and cause grievous hurt against ‘unknown persons’. The FIR states: On his way to the quarters, a huge number of irritated mob attacked the MLA and his escort team at the RIMS road near Nityainanda Temple. The escort team could not control the violent mob and they vandalized the vehicles. As a result of the attack, the MLA and his personal driver received injuries and were admitted in an unconscious state at the RIMS casualty.
Valte was reportedly at first stunned by a Taser gun and then repeatedly hit on the skull by a sharp object. His driver from the Kuki community was also brutally assaulted. He later succumbed to his injuries in the RIMS hospital. After being tortured in the most brutal manner Valte was left to die on the road.
Mainnu Valte, wife of Valte, narrated to me their ordeal at the RIMS hospital. The doctors at the RIMS hospital declared that Valte was dead. She did not accept their declaration and demanded he be kept under observation and treatment to revive him. Doctors at RIMS managed to revive him and on the insistence of Chief Minister N Biren Singh an air ambulance from New Delhi was called and Valte was air-lifted to the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi in critical condition at 1:30 AM. She further revealed that N Biren Singh spoke to her on May 13th from Dr. Vikrant’s phone at Apollo Hospital and also informed her that he had made financial arrangements for the treatment at Apollo of Rs 500000 which he transferred to Dr. Vikrant.
Valte’s wife too was admitted to the hospital. She was exhausted and did not sleep for several days because, on May 3rd and May 4th, there were attacks in their locality. Then when Valte was being treated at Apollo Hospital. She had anxiety and high blood pressure due to which she collapsed. She stayed for 3 days in the ICU and over a week in semi-ICU. Besides anxiety and high blood pressure her Blood Sugar went above 500, and she had a UTI and high fever too.
After the phone call to Valte’s wife on May 13th from Dr. Vikrant’s phone, Valte’s wife or children have received no phone call from Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. “The Chief Minister has not called me after the conversation on May 13th,” expressed a disappointed Mainnu Valte.
I inquired if any BJP leaders from the state or Centre visited her husband at the Apollo Hospital. Valte’s wife informed that BJP State Unit President Adhikarimayum Sharda Devi and Manipur Education Minister Thounoujam Basanta Kumar Singh visited them at the hospital. Also, Union Minister for Tourism G Kishen Reddy visited the family at the Apollo Hospital for a short while.
Other than the Rs 5 lakhs N Biren Singh informed Mainnu Valte about in a telephonic conversation on May 13th, which would be transferred to Dr. Vikrant for their medical expenses; the Valte family has received no final assistance from the state or the Centre. Mainnu Valte shared with me her predicament and how the family raised money from other family members and friends to pay for the hospital bill at Apollo Hospital of around Rs 34 lakhs.
It is interesting to point out that Manipur government spokesperson and Information and Public Relations (IPR) Minister Sapam Ranjan told certain sections of the media last month that Valte is not forgotten. We care for him. In fact, he stated to the media, “The Chief Minister himself contacted the MLA’s wife time and again seeking updates about his condition. We showed our care and concern for his well-being.” He also told the media last month, “Vungzagin Valte is an MLA of Manipur, he will enjoy all the privileges given to MLAs. His medical expenses will definitely be borne by the Manipur Legislative Assembly.” But as of August 29th, 2023, exactly a month after Ranjan made his statements to the media, the Valte family has received no final assistance from the Manipur government.
“I am disappointed in the BJP and it will be difficult to continue in the BJP, especially after the conflict and what I have undergone. I am not disappointed in Prime Minister Modi, I only hope he will speak to me and my family and ask about our well-being,” Valte expressed towards the end of our conversation. However, Mainnu Valte urged that she wanted to meet with the Prime Minister and ask him whether this was the price her husband and her family had to pay for believing in the vision of the Prime Minister for a better India and a better Manipur.
Mainnu Valte is bitter. She is bitter because she feels no one from the state of the Centre cares for the plight of her husband and her family. She does not want to go back to Imphal because she has no faith in the Meitei community and neither in the government to protect her husband and her family. “He is the Chief Adviser to the Chief Minister of Manipur on tribal affairs. If they can do this to my husband, there is no future for the common Kuki in Manipur, especially when the Centre is quiet.”
It is also important to point out that even after over 140 days since the horrific incident on Valte, Manipur police have not made a single arrest in the case till now.