BMC Organizes Manipur Vaccination Drive; Shavei Threatens Organizer
(June 10) In response to the mass outbreak in New Delhi and Jerusalem of Covid19 among recent B’nei Menashe immigrants to Israel, the B’nei Menashe Council of Manipur has begun a vaccination drive. At a meeting of the BMC executive in Churachandpur on Monday, June 7, the subject was addressed of why Shavei Israel, which was tasked with vaccinating the immigrants, had failed to do so properly and was doing nothing to see to the vaccination of the remaining 5,000 B’nei Menashe in India, more than 4,000 of them in Manipur. The meeting ended with the BMC’s decision to take the initiative itself.
“Getting vaccinated in Manipur is at present not in itself a problem,” our Newsletter was told by Ohaliav Haokip, the BMC’s General Secretary. With the worsening of the Covid19 pandemic in India, vaccination centers have been set up in every town and rural area in the state. The difficulty, Haokip said, lay in informing people of the existence of these centers and getting them to register at them. “Many B’nei Menashe,” he stated, “do not know about these centers at all, and many who do know have no idea of how to avail themselves of them.”
The BMC, Haokip related, has put out notices over the B’nei Menashe social media, supplemented by direct telephone calls, offering to extend help with the registration process to whoever needs it. The response, he says, has been highly positive. “We had over 40 individuals turn to us for help on the first day, and the pace is keeping up,” he said. There was, he explained, a wait of two or three days for an appointment to have the first dose of the vaccine administered. The second dose is generally given some 90 days later.
Getting the jab.
The BMC’s campaign has not gone down well with Shavei Israel. On Wednesday, June 9, Haokip received a brief letter from Shlomo Sehjolal (aka Lalboi) Kipgen, Shavei’s chief Manipur administrator and headsman of Boljol village, a northern suburb of Churichandpur. Entitled “Summons,” the letter read:
I would like to inform you that you have not behaved in accordance with the laws of our village, which could have led to bloodshed. Therefore, you are summoned to come and explain yourself to the Boljol Village Authority on the coming date of 10th June, 2021 (Thursday), at 2 pm.
“If you choose to ignore this notice, only you will be responsible for what happens to you afterwards.”
Haokip, who does not live in Boljol, racked his brain to understand what “misbehavior” he was being accused of. Then it came to him. “I work,” he told us, “as a computer consultant for a company belonging to Yosef Chongloi, a B’nei Menashe resident of Boljol. One day two weeks ago, while I was in Chongloi’s home, we had an argument over a work-related matter. Someone in the street must have overheard us and told Shlomo Kipgen about it. It blew over quickly and Yosef and I quickly patched things up, but for Kipgen it was a pretext to issue a ‘summons’ that I of course have no intention of complying with.”
The argument with Chongloi, declared Haokip, was merely a pretext. “What Kipgen and Shavei are really upset about ,” he said, “is our vaccination campaign, which has underlined their own incompetence and indifference to the B’nei’s Menashe health. Why else would Kipgen have waited two weeks after the incident with Chongloi and only written me when the vaccination drive was announced? His letter’s last line, which holds me ‘responsible’ for anything that happens to me, is a threat to resort to violence against me.”
Haokip has lodged a police complaint. Yosef Chongloi, for his part, has told our Newsletter that “the whole thing was blown up out of context. There are always differences about how to proceed at work, and this was one of them. We settled everything between us in a friendly fashion – the proof being that Ohaliav is still working for me.”