B’nei Menashe Council Chairman, Indian Foreign Secretary, Meet For Talks in New Delhi
(January 7) B’nei Menashe Council chairman W.L. (Lalam) Hangshing met in New Delhi on January 5 with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardham Shringla. Much of their two-hour meeting, it was reported, was devoted to a discussion of the B’nei Menashe in Manipur and Mizoram and their Aliyah to Israel.
The Foreign Secretary occupies the second highest position in India’s Ministry of External Affairs, behind only that of the Minister, whose principal advisor and administrative head he is. Shringla, who served as the Economic Counsellor in the Indian Embassy.in Israel in the early 2000s, was appointed to the post a year ago.
Hangshing and Shringla have known each other since their student days at Delhi University’s
St. Stephen's College. Their meeting this week was both a personal reunion and an attempt to ascertain what role the Indian Foreign Ministry might play in facilitating B’nei Menashe Aliyah.
The BMC Chairman, our Newsletter has learned, explained the B’nei Menashe’s current plight to the Foreign Secretary, who is familiar with the community from his posting in Israel two decades ago. Hangshing stressed the fact that the 5,000 B’nei Menashe remaining in India long to settle in Israel and rejoin the families from which they have been separated. He discussed with Shringla the obstacles standing in the way of this, which include the slow pace of the visas issues by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and the mishandling of the issue by Shavei Israel, the Jerusalem-based organization that has been exclusively entrusted with the Aliyah of the B’nei
Menashe since 2003.
The Foreign Minister listened intently to Lalam Hangshing’s account and requested that it be put in the form of a written memorandum that would be brought to the attention of the relevant Ministry officials. He would, he assured the BMC Chairman, seek to use the Ministry’s influence to see to it that the problems discussed in their meeting were addressed and that B”nei Menashe family reunification was speeded up.