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Sack officer & save image, army told

New Delhi/Imphal, Feb. 25: The defence ministry today asked the army to save its “image” by sacking the officer arrested at Pallel in Thoubal district yesterday for trying to smuggle controlled drugs into Myanmar.

The ministry had written to the military secretary: “The continuance of Lt Col Ajay Choudhry in service will be detrimental to the image of the army”, a defence ministry official said.

The official said though Choudhry was administratively under the civil wing of the ministry, he was attached to the 57 division of the army headquartered at Leimakhong near Imphal. On the other hand, the involvement of the army officer in yesterday’s drug seizure has compelled Manipur police to keep the progress of the investigation under wraps.

While the police today revealed every detail of another pseudoephedrine haul made at Imphal airport by a Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) team, they refused to divulge details about the Pallel seizure. NAB is an anti-drug agency of the state police.

“Let us keep all the information a secret as the investigation is going on,” Thoubal superintendent of police A.K. Jhaljit Singh said when asked about the source and destination of the tablets.

The police at Pallel in Thoubal district yesterday recovered pseudoephedrine tablets valued at nearly Rs 20 crore in the black market from three vehicles — all having “army” labels — and arrested six persons. Lt Col Ajay Choudhry, the PRO of the 57 Mountain Division of the army, was leading the three-vehicle convoy from Imphal to Moreh, apparently in a bid to smuggle the drugs into Myanmar.