Imphal, March 8: The seven accused, including defence public relations officer LtCol Ajay Chowdhry, an airlines employee and son of an MLA, involved in the seizure of more than Rs 20 crore worth of drugs at Pallel in Thoubal district, were today remanded in police custody for five more days.
The seven were produced before the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances special court here today.
Judge Ronald Keishing remanded the seven to police custody for five more days till March 12.
The judge also ordered that the seven accused would go to jail without being produced before the court after the police remand ended on March 12. They were remanded in judicial custody till March 22.
The police sought an extension, saying they were yet to complete questioning of the accused.
As the seven were appearing in court, a group of nearly 20 persons shouted slogans outside, demanding a check on drug smuggling and booking the culprits. Pseudoephedrine tablets, valued at more than Rs 20 crore in the black market, were seized by the police at Pallel in Thoubal district from three vehicles, all with army labels, on February 24.
Defence PRO Col Chowdhry was leading the vehicles from Imphal to Moreh, apparently to smuggle the tablets into Myanmar. Besides Col Chowdhry, five other persons were arrested.
After interrogating the accused, the police arrested Seikholen Haokip, the son of former minister and Congress MLA T.N. Haokip, on March 25 from the son’s Imphal residence. The police said the seized drugs were loaded in the three vehicles at Seikholen’s house. Some psychotropic substances were also recovered from his house.
One of the three seized vehicles belongs to Seikholen.
The Okram Ibobi Singh government decided to hand over the case to the CBI on March 4 in view of the involvement of the MLA’s son and also an airline employee.
The government is preparing to approach the central investigating agency. The Narcotics Control Bureau is assisting the state police in investigating the case.
As the army officer has been booked under the NDPS Act, the army authorities in Manipur are not trying to intervene in the arrest of the officer. Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam yesterday told the Manipur Assembly that the case would be thoroughly investigated and all those found guilty of being involved in drug smuggling would not be spared.
He also informed the House that the state police was on a mission to track down smugglers and kingpins. He said the state police, Manipur Rifles and India Reserve Battalion were jointly conducting raids to bust drug rackets.