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Manipur MLA’s son held in drug case

Imphal, Feb. 26: Manipur Congress legislator and former minister T.N. Haokip’s son, Seikholen, has been arrested in the February 24 drug haul case, in which an army officer was also arrested.

Sources said Thoubal police picked up Seikholen, 35, from his house at Dewlalane here last night and seized four boxes containing 2,316 banned ketamine hydrocloride injection and elatamine tablets, which are used as stimulants and to process heroin. Seikholen was produced before the court of chief judicial magistrate, Thoubal, Noutuneshori Devi, today and remanded in police custody till March 8.

Pseudoephedrine tablets valued more than Rs 20 crore in the black market were seized by the police at Pallel in Thoubal district, around 54km from here, from three vehicles “all having army labels”. Defence public relations officer Col Ajay Choudhry was leading the convoy from Imphal to Moreh, apparently in a bid to smuggle the tablets into Myanmar. Besides Choudhry, five persons were arrested.

The arrest of Seikholen Haokip, 35, takes the number to seven.

The sources said the Tata Safari, one of the three vehicles carrying the tablets, is owned by Seikholen.

The police arrested him after interrogating the six arrested persons who were remanded in police custody till March 8 by the Thoubal chief judicial magistrate yesterday. All seven will be produced before a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) court in here on March 8.

The police believe the tablets seized at Pallel were loaded from Seikholen’s house. His father represents Saikot Assembly constituency in Churachandpur district. He was the information minister in Okram Ibobi Singh government’s previous ministry. Seikholen does not live with his father, who stays at the MLA quarters in Babupara.

The army is expected to seek Col Choudhry’s custody for court martial after completion of formalities and police investigation. The arrests raise suspicion of a “big racket” involving high profile people of the state.

The Okram Ibobi Singh government is preparing to hand over cases of recent drug seizures in Manipur to the CBI. The decision was taken by the cabinet before the Pallel haul.

Col Choudhry had told reporters on the day of the arrest that one of the persons arrested with him was a relative of a senior police officer. He, however, did not disclose their names. Police investigators have been instructed not to disclose the details of the investigation to reporters. Sources said the police are trying to arrest more people in the case.

The Manipur unit of Trinamul Congress had demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Narcotics into the Pallel case. “It will be more appropriate to hand over the cases to the CBB,” party leader I. Ibohalbi Singh said.

Moirangthem Nara Singh, the convener of Opposition Forum, called for a pubic uprising against drug smuggling. The Revolutionary Peoples Front and Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak claimed that the arrest of Col Choudhry was a proof of their repeated claim that the army was involved in smuggling drugs in Manipur to destroy the youths of the state.