Khaute Is Questioned In Rape Case While Haokip Is Freed After Shavei Libel
(June 15) Leaders of two rival B’nei Menashe organizations faced the Manipur police last week. One, Tsvi Khaute, Shavei Israel’s B’nei Menashe Coordinator, was interrogated about his role in the 2016 rape case of the daughter of Sarah Lamsi Baite. The other, Ohaliav Haokip, Secretary General of the B’nei Menashe Council, was freed without interrogation or bail after being taken into custody on charges filed by Shavei of having falsified names on a petition.
Khaute, who lives in Israel and was in Manipur on Shavei’s behalf, was summoned for questioning by the Churachandpur police on Friday, June 10. He was questioned, our Newsletter has learned, about his suspected complicity in Shavei’s pressuring Baite at the time not to report the rape to the police; about his involvement in her subsequent expulsion from Churachandpur’s Beit Shalom congregation when the incident became publicly known; about his responsibility for the placement of the accused rapist, who now lives in Israel too, on Shavei’s 2018 Aliyah list, and about recent Shavei threats against Baite when she finally filed a police complaint last January.
The Shavei Israel Coordinator, our sources have informed us, denied all knowledge of these things and claimed to have learned of them only recently. When asked how someone in his position could have been ignorant of matters that were common knowledge in the B’nei Menashe community, he had no answer to give and reportedly contradicted himself repeatedly, as when he when he first stated that he had nothing to do with the choosing of Aliyah candidates and then offered to make amends to Baite and her daughter by having them put on the next Aliyah list.
After the interrogation, Khaute was released and told that the police would keep an eye on his future activities in Manipur.
Two days earlier, on Wednesday June 8, Ohaliav Haokip was locked up in the same Churachandpur police station following a complaint filed against him by two local B’nei Menashe, Ginkhoson Hangshing and Nemneichong Kipgen, for “dishonest misappropriation of property.” The actual charge, as stated in the FIR or First Information Report that Haokip was served with was that the B’nei Menashe Council had listed the two plaintiffs without their knowledge on a petition bearing the names of 1,230 B’nei Menashe that was sent to The Jewish Agency and Israel’s Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.
The petition, which demanded an end to Shavei Israel’s grip on B’nei Menashe Aliyah, has been denounced by Shavei Israel ever since it was sent in February 2021. Its supporters have been threatened by Shavei with being denied Aliyah if they do not disavow it and this campaign has recently been stepped up. At a Shavei meeting held in Churachandpur on May 15, Shavei’s Assistant Administrator in Manipur, Bentsion Suantek, announced plans to file a court case contending that names had been illicitly been put on the petition and appealed to all who had supported it to now claim that they were the victims of fraud.
In the end, only two volunteers to do so could be found. Their accusation was doubly absurd, Ohaliav Haokip told our Newsletter. “In the first place, what possible motive could there have been for adding two false names to a genuine list of 1,228 people, none of whom have made a similar claim of fraud? And secondly, the charge sheet stated that the plaintiffs’ ID numbers on the petition had been taken from them during the B’nei Menashe Council’s 2020 emergency food distribution campaign in Manipur whereas in fact no IDs were ever asked for or recorded during the distribution. There is ample documentation to prove this. The whole thing was trumped up by Shavei to discredit the petition, frighten and intimidate the BMC, and put me out of action as its General Secretary at a crucial time. Hangshing and Kipgen were pawns used by Shavei, which put them up to it. But they knew that they were lying to the police and will have to answer to the law for it.
“Someone in the police will have to answer, too,” Ohaliav continued. “The whole thing was fishy. Normally, a First Information Report is drawn up after a preliminary investigation has taken place, but in this case there was no investigation at all. The FIR simply repeated the plaintiffs’ charges without first asking me or the BMC for our side of the story, and then locked me up for the better part of a day. Someone has some explaining to do.”
Ohaliav Haokip tells the full story of his arrest in an accompanying article in today’s Newsletter.