A Colonel-rank Defence PRO and five others were on Sunday arrested by Manipur police after they were caught allegedly carrying illicit drugs valued at an estimated Rs15 crore meant to be smuggled out to Myanmar, in one of the biggest such hauls in the state.
The contraband was found in three vehicles at Pallel in Chandel district, state police said here, adding they had taken into custody Defence PRO Colonel Ajay Chaudhary, his assistant RK Babalu, IndiGo assistant manager Brojendro Singh, Haopu Haokip, Minthang Bongel and Milan Haokip.
The six were interrogated at Pallel police station, about 45 kms south-east of here, police said. A case has been registered against them under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. They will taken to Kakshing police station in Thoubal district, they said.
"Colonel Ajay Chaudhary has been arrested this morning by the Manipur police along with five other persons. We have been made to believe that certain contrabands have been recovered," Army Spokesperson Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya said in Delhi.
The Army promised strict disciplinary action if any personnel were found involved in the case and a Defence Ministry spokesman said in Delhi that once a formal report into the incident comes to the department, appropriate action will be taken against the officer.
Claiming that he was not aware that the consignment contained illicit drugs, Ajay Chaudhary said he was "cheated" by "nephew of a very senior officer" into accompanying him. He, however, did not identify whom he was referring to among those arrested.
"Yesterday, the nephew of a very senior officer whom I know had come to me. I have met him two or three times at his place. He said he had come to trade in Moray and a few people harassed him enroute to Moray," he said.
"I asked him what it was, he said nothing just a few things that I deal with. There will be a few packages I would be taking in my car. So you don't have to worry. So I said OK...," Chaudhary said, adding he had also asked his friend from IndiGo who agreed to join him so that they could do some "shopping" in Moray.
The officer said he had allowed the commandoes at a a check point to inspect the vehicles as he had suspected nothing wrong.
"Since, he is a friend and he is a relative of someone senior, you will never suspect him of doing anything like this.... Somehow I have been cheated in this," he said.
Army spokesman Dahiya said, "We would like to state this much that if he is found guilty as per the law of the land, strict disciplinary action will be taken against him", adding, "we will get involved in the process when we are formally approached".
The drugs included pseudoephedrine tablets Respifed, Omkop, Hilcold, Polyfed and Actidin and were worth Rs 15 crore, they said, adding it was one of the biggest drug hauls in the state.
Also called party drugs, they are prone to abuse as they cause intoxication.