Wider probe call as Manipur cancels medal
The Manipur government has withdrawn a gallantry medal awarded to sub-inspector of police Bheishamayum Debson Singh after the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) “exposed” his arrest in a 2013 drug trafficking case.
On August 16, the state government suspended Debson for “concealing” the drug case pending against him, along with an inspector, E. Roshan Singh, for the lapses in “initial processing.” The N. Biren Singh government also instituted an inquiry, to be led by an inspector-general of police, for the lapses that have left the government embarrassed.
However, on Tuesday, AMSU moved governor Najma Heptulla, seeking her intervention in the case by ensuring that the inquiry is “wide enough” and “headed by a retired high court judge.”
The AMSU leadership had on Monday said the inquiry should re-examine the antecedents of all awardees because they have “reliable reports” suggesting more police personnel who were either terminated/suspended in drug haul cases have made it to the gallantry medals’ list.
Union chief Peter Laishram told The Telegraph on Tuesday that a two-member AMSU team had submitted a memorandum to the governor in the morning. Copies of the memorandum have been marked to the chief minister and the state police chief.
While appreciating the state government’s prompt action against Debson, Laishram said, “This is not the first time that such a goof-up is taking place while awarding gallantry medals. In the past, many police personnel involved in fake encounters were awarded gallantry medals on Republic Day/Independence Day. Subsequently they were chargesheeted at the behest of the Supreme Court. There is a need for more transparency while selecting awardees and placing these in the public domain. We want the antecedents of all awardees checked. There are around 26 awardees.”
The AMSU has said that they will wait for the government to act on their demand. “But if we don’t get results, we will be compelled to reveal the names. The authorities should also probe if there is any link between additional director-general of police Arvind Kumar shooting himself and the doubtful selection process,” Laishram said.
According to AMSU, Debson, then an assistant sub-inspector, was arrested from Pallel in Chandel district (it is now in Tengnoupal district) on April 28, 2013 along with 11 other police commandos while on their way to Moreh under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, with Respifed and pseudoephedrine tablets worth Rs 3.64 crore in the international market. Debson was reinstated and is now a sub-inspector in Imphal East.
Government officials said on Tuesday that the three-member committee led by inspector-general of police (intelligence) K. Radhashyam Singh to probe the lapses would also carry out fresh verification of the antecedents/past records of all awardees and submit its report within a week. “ The CMO has taken the matter seriously. It has also thanked the AMSU for exposing the lapses,” one of them said.
The Opposition Congress has used the goof-up to seek the resignation of the chief minister and inspector-general of police (intelligence) for allegedly “awarding police medals to accused policemen”.
Senior Congress MLA K. Meghachandra Singh, through an online press conference on Monday, had termed the manner and selection of gallantry awards as “abuse of power” by awarding “handpicked policemen to serve their political bosses in the ruling BJP”.
He also reiterated the Congress’ demand to transfer the high-profile 2018 Lukhosie Zou drug trafficking case to the CBI, among others. Zou is a former chairman of the Chandel autonomous district council. The drug seized from the eight arrested, including Zou, is said to be worth over Rs 28 crore in the international market.
The Congress has been demanding a war against drugs in the Assembly too, Meghachandra said, adding there was “no hope left” from the present BJP-led coalition government in combating the drug menace.