A decorated IPS officer of the Manipur Police, Thounaojam Brinda, has said in an affidavit to the Guwahati High Court that she was pressured by Manipur CM N Biren Singh and the police top brass to let off an arrested drug lord Lhukhosei Zhou.
Brinda is currently facing a contempt case for her allegedly "offensive" remarks on Facebook against the judiciary after Zhou was granted bail. At the time of his arrest Zhou was the serving chairman of the Autonomous District Council (ADC), Chandel.
Speaking further on Zhou's arrest, Brinda said that on the intervening night of 19 June 2018, a team of sleuths from the Narcotics and Affair of Border (NAB) department, led by her, arrested him and seven others, also seizing drugs, cash, old currency notes and other incriminating evidence, reports The New Indian Express.
According to the report, Brinda wrote in the affidavit that soon after the arrest, she received a call from a BJP vice-president of the state, who made her speak to the CM over the phone.
“I informed the CM that we were about to search the house of an ADC member as we suspected drugs were stashed in his quarters. The CM lauded and told me to go ahead and arrest the ADC member if drugs were found in his quarters,” Brinda said.
She further stated that during the operation Zhou implored her multiple times to come to a compromise but she refused.
The BJP man who called her earlier, Moirangthem Asnikumar, later allegedly came to her residence and told her that Zhou was the chief minister's wife's right hand man in Chandel. She says that he paid her a visit again to convey that the CM and his wife were "furious" about her decision to not let go of Zhou.
She has even alleged that the then DGP of Manipur police had asked her to remove the chargesheet of the case from court.
She writes in the affidavit:
"I along with SP, NAB went for the meeting at the DG’s room at Police headquarters. There, the DGP enquired about the charge sheet of the case. I told him that it had reached the court. He told us that the honourable CM wants the charge sheet removed from the court. I told the DG that it is not possible as the charge sheet is already in the court. Further, the DG said, it is the order of the CM that it be removed from the court. The DG then ordered SP, NAB, and me to remove the charge sheet from the court. Later that evening, the SP, NAB came back to the office and told me in my room that he just came back after meeting the CM and that the CM was infuriated that the charge sheet had still not been removed from court."
On 1 January 2019, a special judge, NDPS, wrote a letter to the DGP and to the Secretary, Bar Council of Manipur saying that the then SP of Imphal West and a senior advocate had reportedly met the public prosecutor and asked the investigating officer to withdraw the charge sheet against Zhou.
As news of this leaked to the media, Brinda said that she was reprimanded by the CM for violating "official secrecy".
"The CM gave a thorough scolding especially directed at the SPP and me. I still do not understand why we were reprimanded for dutifully discharging our lawful duty to this day", she wrote.
She further said that her Facebook post was not to interfere with the delivery of justice or due process of law, but a fair criticism of the judge who "did not have respect for his chair".
Thounaojam Brinda has earlier been awarded by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry in 2018 for her work in busting several drug rackets in Manipur. She was also the recipient of gallantry medal from the state government and the Chief Minister's Commendation Certificate.
(With inputs from The New Indian Express)
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