Imphal: In a shocking development linked to the war on drugs in Manipur, Thounaojam Brinda, the lady officer who was awarded the chief minister’s gallantry medal for “single-handedly fighting the war on drugs” in the state, returned her award on Friday.
Brinda, an additional superintendent with Manipur police, took the decision in protest against special Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) court’s decision to acquit Lhukhosei Zou, former chairman of the Autonomous District Council (ADC), along with six others, in a multi-crore drug seizure case.
Brinda, in her letter to Chief Minister N Biren Singh, expressed dissatisfaction at how the case was handled.
Mentioning Zou’s case, Brinda wrote: “In recognition for this case … I was conferred the Chief Minister’s Police Medal for Gallantry… However, the investigation and prosecution have been deemed unsatisfactory … I feel morally inclined that I have not conducted my duty as ‘per the wishes’ of the criminal justice delivery system of the land.”
Brinda was awarded the gallantry award on Patriots’ Day, August 13, 2018, in recognition of her contribution and service as part of the chief minister’s ‘War against Drugs’ initiative. She is also the first narcotics officer in the history of Manipur Police to have been awarded a gallantry medal.
As reported by EastMojo, the Manipur special NDPS court, earlier on Thursday, acquitted Zou, the main accused in the alleged multi-crore drug seizure case in Manipur.
The landmark judgment, pronounced by Justice W Tonen Meitei on Thursday, said the “prosecution has totally failed to prove the charges levelled against” the former ADC chairman and others.
Brinda, who was then additional SP of NAB police station, had led the operation leading to the arrest of Zou and seven others in June, 2018. During the operation, the team had recovered drugs worth over Rs 27 crore in the international market, 28 kg of amphetamine tablets, as well as a large amount of hard cash, including demonetised notes from Zou’s official residence at Lamphel in Imphal West district.
All seized articles in connection with the present case must be handed over from whom it was seized except the contraband drugs and the demonetised money of Rs 95,000, the court said on Thursday.
In her letter to the CM, Brinda added: “For the reason cited above, I do not consider myself deserving of the honour bestowed upon me… I, therefore, return the same to the Home Department so that it may be given to a more deserving and loyal police officer.”
Zou was elected a member of the district council on a Congress ticket and later joined BJP to form the local body government in Chandel. He was expelled from party after the incident. The court has also ordered immediate release of the 51-year-old from Sajiwa Central Jail.
The court, however, convicted two other accused, Thangminlin Zou (30) and Tung Khan Mung Zou (19). Their sentences will be announced on December 2.
The order said: “The prosecution could prove that the seizing officer had seized 80,000 numbers of WY tablets (containing huge amount of methamphetamine) and 2,677 kg of Heroin powder from the unauthorised possession of the accused No.4 Thangminlun Zou with the active participation, abetment and conspiracy with the accused No.2 Tung Khan Mung Zou @Mung @ Aric. Hence, both the accused shall face punishment under section 21(c)/22(c) read with section 29 of the ND PS Act,1985.”
Earlier, in July this year, Brinda had filed an affidavit in the Manipur High Court, alleging pressure from Chief Minister N Biren Singh to let off Zou in the drug case. The Manipur court had then directed Brinda to stay away from making any ‘unsubstantiated and ex-facie defamatory’ statements against the chief minister.
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