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'Disappointing To Be Called Foreigner': Son of Manipur BJP MLA Attacked by Mob

Speaking to The Quint, Joseph Valte talks about his father's recovery, the support they have received, and more.

3 min read
'Disappointing To Be Called Foreigner': Son of Manipur BJP MLA Attacked by Mob
Hindi Female

"My father is improving day by day, but the progress is very slow since the damage that was done is extensive," said 29-year-old Joseph Valte, the son of Manipur BJP MLA Vungzagin Valte who was brutally attacked by a mob in Imphal on 5 May.

Vungzagin Valte, who is a Kuki legislator from Thanlon constituency in the Pherzawl district, and a father of three, was attacked while he was returning from the Chief Minister's Secretariat. He was on his way to his official quarters after attending a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh on the law and order situation in the state.

Critically injured, Vungzagin Valte was airlifted to Indraprastha Apollo hospital in Delhi on 5 May. He became paralysed after being electrocuted during his attack.

Two months on, he is still in Delhi, with the doctors now advising home recuperation with physiotherapy and weekly routine medical check-ups, Joseph Valte told The Quint.

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'Not Feeling Let Down by Absence of Top BJP Leaders' 

"During my father’s hospitalisation, G Kishan Reddy, who is minister of Development of the Northeastern Region, visited the hospital. Even the president of the Manipur BJP and the education minister visited, alongside some MPs of Manipur and Mizoram," said Joseph.

However, he added that he wasn't let down by the absence of top leadership, including the prime minister, the home minister, and the defence minister.

"I understand they are occupied with the Lok Sabha, but my only hope is that they will intervene strongly and address the Manipur issue in the near future. It is difficult to live next to our Meitei neighbours since they have thrown us out of Imphal. They have hunted us down like animals, and so, it is tough to stay together. I hope that a swift solution is put forth by all the government officials who will be handling this crisis."
Joseph Valte, son of Manipur BJP MLA Vungzagin Valte

What really disappoints Joseph, however, is that despite his father being the senior-most MLA with a significant stature in the current state government and among the Kuki-Zomi tribes, something so brutal could happen to him in the streets of the state capital.


'We Respect Our Flag, Anthem' 

Responding to baseless name-calling of Kukis as "foreigners" and "illegal immigrants," Joseph argued that amongst the three big communities in Manipur – the Meiteis, Nagas, and Kuki-Zomis – theirs was the only community that has "never demanded independence from India."

"The Kuki-Zomi tribes simply stated that they would still be living in India but would be demanding separate administration from Manipur. We respect our national flag and anthem."
Joseph Valte, son of Manipur BJP MLA Vungzagin Valte

With his voice clearly denoting dejection, Joseph added, "I was born in Imphal. So, when someone calls the Kuki-Zomi community 'foreign', it makes me feel really sad."


'Driver Could Not Be Saved'

The lesser-known story with respect to the mob attack on Vungzagin Valte is of his driver, Thanghoulal, who was murdered on the spot. The Quint had visited Thanghoulal’s wife Chingneihmoi Zou in Churachandpur, only to know that she was still awaiting her dead husband's mortal remains.

"We consider them (Thanghoulal’s family) as our own blood. Yesterday my uncle, sister, and other family members visited the house of my father’s driver. On the day of the attack, we had thought of bringing him to Delhi with my father, but the doctors had said that he was beyond saving due to critical head and brain damage. After that, things just happened really fast," Joseph explained regretfully.

Finally, when asked about the media coverage of the ethnic violence in Manipur, Joseph asserted that if media coverage was not present, the Kukis and their suffering would have continued to remain inconsequential.

“It is because of the media, especially like yours, that people all over the world came to know about the violence in our state. We are very grateful for the continued efforts of the media industry to bring our issues to light. Also, our brothers in Mizoram have also offered help, and I also received a phone call from Kerala, offering help. Inter-state unity has become very vital," he concluded.  

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