Shavei Israel Circulates Bogus Census Form, Faces Contempt of Court Charge
Updated: Feb 5
(February 4) As the war being waged by Shavei Israel against the elected B’nei Menashe Council of Manipur continues, Shavei operatives face a double charge of criminal impersonation and contempt of court. The Churachandpur court that issued a January 22 injunction forbidding these operatives from using BMC stationary and titles to call for new BMC elections will convene on Friday, February 5 to consider these accusations and hear a Shavei appeal. The injunction was specifically directed against Shavei’s current Manipur coordinator Yitzhak Seimang Haokip, the BMC’s outgoing General Secretary, who fraudulently pretended to be still holding that position when signing the call for new elections meant to overturn those held on November 5 with the participation of all 24 of Manipur’s B’nei Menashe congregations.
The latest round in the assault on the democratically elected BMC was launched a week ago in the guise of a bogus “B’nei Menashe Council India Census” form personally distributed by Sehjalal Kipgen, Shavei Israel’s Manipur Administrator, to all 24 congregations. Families receiving the form, printed without the authorization or knowledge of the elected BMC, were told by Sehjalal that filling it out was a requirement for being considered for Aliyah to Israel. On it, the head of each family was instructed to list the members of his or her household and sign at the bottom. Beside this signature were spaces for the stamp and signature of the chairmen of the congregation and of the BMC.
The ruse was transparent. Once the forms were filled out and signed by a congregational chairman, they would be returned to Shavei for signing by Seimang Haokip, who could then claim the support and recognition of all the signatories. Local chairmen who refused to sign were threatened with being ousted, as can be seen in the photograph below of a letter sent to the resistant chairman of Mualkoi by 23 members of his congregation. The first of the 23 signees was Bentzion Suantak, currently under investigation by the Manipur police, together with Shavei’s international coordinator Tsvi Khaute and former Shavei coordinator for Manipur Meital Singson, for bank fraud and embezzlement from the B’nei Menashe Council’s Churachandpur bank account. (It has been speculated that Shavei’s illegal attempts to regain control of the BMC stem from its hope that, if it succeeds, it can manage to have the case dismissed.)
The bogus census form has torn the B’nei Menashe communities of Manipur apart. Many families have signed it, whether in the belief that they were filling out a genuine BMC document or in the conviction that their Aliyah depended on it, while others, determined to stand by the representative body elected by them, have refused. More acts of fraud were perpetrated in the process. In one instance, in the community of Tuilaphai, Chairman Yehoshua Haokip would not sign because, as he told our Newsletter, “We were aware of the proceedings in court, and laws are to be obeyed.” Tuilaphai’s finance secretary, Amos Doumang Mate, then took matters into his own hands and filled out and returned the census forms himself. “It’s sad,” Haokip stated, “when coercion and thuggery rule the day and our own officials demonstrate values that are as far from Judaism as it is possible to get.”
The elected B’nei Menashe Council’s lawyer Albert Nungate, who represented it before the court in January, will do so again in the February 5 hearing. “Impersonation is a crime,” he told our Newsletter, “and this is a clear case of contempt of court. I don’t have an iota of doubt that the court will rule in our favor.