Army colonel among six held with psychotropic drugs
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 24 2013 : A Colonel of the Indian Army and an Assistant Manager of a private airline are among six persons apprehended by Thoubal district police commandos for their alleged involvement in smuggling of psychotropic drugs worth nearly Rs 30 crores.

The army officer has been identified as Public Relations Officer of Public Information Bureau, Defence Wing (PRO/DW) Col Ajay Chowdhury and the Assistant Manager (Indigo Airlines/Security Staff) as one Ngairangbam Brojendro (40) s/o (L) Gyaneshor of Kakwa Khongnang Pheidekpi.

The six, including the Colonel are in the custody of Kakching police and three cases have been filed against them.

They will be produced before the Court of the Thoubal CJM tomorrow.

The drugs having high composition of Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride were reportedly seized at near Pallel police check point from three vehicles, including a white-coloured Bolero Jeep (MN04A/8390) occupied by the army Colonel and the Assistant Manager.

Speaking to the media at New Delhi, Army Spokesperson Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya said, "Colonel Ajay Choudhury has been arrested on Sunday morning by the Manipur police along with five other persons.

We have been made to believe that certain contrabands have been recovered.

We would like to state this much that if he is found guilty as per the law of the land, strick disciplinary action will be taken against him" .

An Army officer on condition of anonymity said that the Army will not intervene and asserted that it is a civil case.

If found guilty, the law will take its own course, he added.

The Bolero Jeep was leading the two other four wheelers a white colour Bolero Jeep (AS01BA/8699) and a Tata Safari SUV (MN02A/0369) also of white colour.

The three vehicles and the drugs consignment and the two number plates on the Bolero in which the Col was travelling
The three vehicles and the drugs consignment and the two number plates on the Bolero in which the Col was travelling

All three vehicles were heading in the direction of Moreh this morning, said a source while disclosing that Colonel Ajay Chowdhury initially resisted a civil-dressed Manipur police intelligence officer's personal intimation that checking of all vehicles crossing Pallel check post is mandatory.

Even though Ajay Chowdhury identified himself as Army PRO and moved on, a team of Pallel post Thoubal district police commando led by Sub Inspector Dhanabir stopped the three-vehicle convoy after it had proceeded a few metres from Pallel police check post.

The commando team detained the vehicle occupants at gun point as the Colonel refused to alight and later spotted a huge drug consignment on further checking the vehicles.

The drugs were found loaded in the back-seats and rear compartments of the three vehicles with two occupants in each vehicle.

The one in which Ajay Chowdhury was riding on had the inscriptions 'Government of India', 'Ministry of Defence' and 'Army PRO Imphal' on the front side of the vehicle with a beacon light on top while the others had 'Army' stickers in red on their windscreens.

Number plate of the Colonel's vehicle (MN04A/8390) is suspected to be a fictitious one as another registration number (MN04A/6968) was also detected under the former.

From the Bolero Jeep occupied by the Colonel and Brojendro, the police commandos recovered the drugs carried in three carton boxes, six polythene bags, a haversack and one large suitcase.

The second Bolero had five carton boxes, one polythene bag and two large-sized bags containing the drugs and was driven by one Haopu Haokip (28) s/o (L) Thangjam of Langol Games Village Zone-II with the occupant identified as one Minthang Doungel (29) s/o Lunkhohao of New Checkon (New Lambulane) .

From the Tata Safari, that was at the rear of the convoy, the police commandos recovered the drugs contained in eight gunny bags, five air-bags and one carton box.

One Minlal Haokip (25) s/o (L) Otkhokai of New Checkon near Brighter Academy was reportedly driving the vehicle with RK Babloo (25) s/o Bijen of Top Khongnangkhong, Porompat DC Road as the occupant.

Babloo is said to be a personnel of 165 Infantry Battalion, currently posted in Assam.

The seized drugs totalling 3,30,440 strips and estimated to worth about Rs 24,95,66,000 included the brands Omkof, Respifed, Polyfed-C, Trep, Actidin and Hilcold-T, all having pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride composition.

Thoubal district Police Superintendent (SP) Dr Ak Jhaljit, who arrived at Pallel soon after confiscation of the drugs declined to comment on the matter.

The drugs seized today is the largest haul in recent times.

On January 11, a team of Special investigation Unit (SIU), formed under Imphal West district police seized pseudoephedrine Hydrocloride drugs worth about Rs 1.4 crores from Imphal (Tulihal) Airport.

Following strong criticism from various sections of the society against disbanding the SIU soon after the Airport haul as well as demanding disclosure of the real smuggler(s)'s identity, the State Cabinet eventually decided to hand over the case to CBI for further investigation.

Forty-nine years old Col Ajay Chowdhury s/o Sashidhar Narayan Chowdhury is said to have been commissioned into the Indian Army from Bihar.

Speaking to media persons soon after his detention, Ajay Chowdhury claimed that he obliged invitation by a nephew of a senior Manipur police officer to visit Moreh.

The Colonel also said that he had no idea the bags contained drugs.

It is said that Pseudoephedrine Hydrocloride drugs are smuggled into Myanmar and beyond where it is used in the manufacture of heroin as well as in other psychotropic drugs.

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