Lt Col Ajay Chaudhary, 49, posted as the defence public relations officer at Imphal
since January 2011, and the five others were detained in Pallel, which falls under Thoubal police district of Manipur, around 7am.
“Their three vehicles, two Boleros and a Tata Safari, were packed to the roof with pseudoephedrine and other tablets estimated to be worth around Rs 24 crore. The Bolero in which the Army officer was travelling had a sticker of ‘PRO Defence’,” an official said.
Two Boleros and a Tata Safari found stacked with pseudoephedrine and other tablets worth Rs 24 crore
Lt-Col Ajay Chaudhary, who was in one of the Boleros, said he didn’t know of the drugs Lt-Col denies link to any narcotics cartel
The vehicles were headed towards Moreh, the town on the border with Myanmar, where such drugs are in huge demand as “speed drugs”, when they were intercepted. The other five were identified as N Brojendro, an assistant manager of IndiGo Airlines posted at Imphal airport; R K Babloo, 25, a Territorial Army jawan and three tribals — H Haokip, 28; Minlal Haokip, 25; and MDoungel (29).
The Army said “strictest possible action’’ would be taken against Lt-Col Chaudhary, a Bihar Regiment officer, if he was found guilty.
Lt-Col Chaudhary, however,denied his involvement in any drug racket, telling reporters that he was “shocked” to see the drug packets inside the vehicles since he was just helping a businessman whom he knew. As the Imphal PRO, the officer comes under the defence ministry’s directorate of public relations. Before January 2011, he was posted with the Army’s newly-raised division headquartered in Lekhapani in Assam.
Thoubal district SP Jhaljit Singh said investigation was in progress. “The accused will be produced in court on Monday,” he added.
The drama began around 7 am when a Manipur police team waylaid the three vehicles near Pallel bazar. After Lt-Col Chaudhary initially refused to alight from his vehicle, the police team sought the help of a police commando unit stationed nearby in the town.
The commandos then forced the three vehicles to move to their complex and conducted a search that led to the recovery of 31 packets of pseudoephedrine and other tablets.
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