Being the daughter-in-law of Manipur topgun insurgent leader R K Meghen alias Sanayaina , Thounaojam Brinda is a police officer with a difference .
On Monday , the Manipur Police Service officer and former Addl SP/NAB in her affidavit submitted before the Manipur High Court alleged that Chief Minister N Biren had strongly pressurized her to release the suspected kingpin Lhukhosei Zhou, a former Chairman of ADC, Chandel.
The lady Police officer submitted her affidavit in connection with a suo-motu criminal contempt case registered by High Court of Manipur against her and others following the spat of comments on Facebook caused by her post which allegedly undermined and criticised the Court for granting three weeks bail to accused drug kingpin former ADC Chandel Chairman Lhukhosei Zou in a 2018 drug smuggling case.
This has unleashed the proverbial Pandora’s Box.
In the affidavit, the woman police officer spun the details of high profile drug lords with political connections and politicians.
She stated that such category of high profile persons are looting the state and destroying the youth of their future and that the banner War on Drugs is only an eyewash coined by the present Government to gain political mileage.
Recalling the genesis of the arrest of Lhukhosei Zou, Brinda in her affidavit stated that on the intervening night of June 19, 2018, NAB arrested Lhukhosei Zou along with seven others and seized 4.595 kg of heroine powder, 2,80,200 World is Yours tablets, Rs. 57,18000 cash, Rs 95.000 old currency notes and several other incriminating articles.
The operation which was started around 4.30 pm of the day and lasted till past midnight was commanded by her.
As the crackdown started and the arrested accused revealed drugs were hidden at different places including the quarter of an ADC member at Lamphel, one of the accused led the police to the quarter of the ADC member at Lamphel.
When the police team was about to enter the quarter, a Whatsapp call came from one Moirangthem Asnikumar, a BJP state unit Vice-President who enquired about any development in drug busting. In that, the lady MPS police who commanded the team told him she was in the middle of an operation.
However, the BJP leader made her speak to the Chief Minister over the phone. Chief Minister was briefed that police was in a drug trail and about to search the house of an ADC member as they suspected drugs were stashed in his quarter.
The CM lauded her and told her to go ahead and arrest the ADC member if drugs were found in his quarter. The last cordon and search was conducted at the quarter of the ADC member along with a team of Lamphel Police (Imphal West Police) led by then SP (lmphal West) Themthing Mashnngva.
He however did not enter the premises of the ADC quarter (for reasons best known to himself), Brinda said in the affidavit. Before and after the drugs were found at his quarter, the ADC member who turned out to be the Chairman, ADC, Chandel District, repeatedly requested police officer Th Brinda to compromise and settle the issue which Brinda refused. After the drugs were found from his quarter, Lhukhosei asked her to allow him to call the Director General of Police (DGP) Manipur and the Chief Minister, to which she refused, the lady officer stated.
On June 20, 2018 morning at about 7:00 AM, M. Asnikumar, BJP Vice president came to the residence of Thounaojam Brinda at Yaiskul Janmasthan while she and her husband were in their bedroom. Ashnikumar was in a serious mood. Brinda talked with Ashnikumar in the presence of her husband in the bedroom, as per the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, during the conversation, the BJP leader told Brinda that the arrested ADC member turned out to be Chief Minister’s wife Olice’s right hand man in Chandel and that Olice was furious about the arrest.
He also informed that CM had ordered that the arrested ADC Chairman be exchanged with his wife or son to facilitate release of Lhukhosei, to which Brinda replied as to how release of Lhukhosei could be possible as the drugs were seized from him and not his wife or son.
Helpless, Asnikumar left. But he again came back for the second time. He informed that Chief Minister and Olice were extremely furious on Brinda’s defiance of their order and conveyed that CM ordered once again to release the ADC Chairman, Brinda stated in the affidavit.
Brinda who stuck to her decision told the BJP leader that the culpability of the ADC Chairman be left in the ambit of the investigation and Court.
She also told Asnikumar that the BJP government in Manipur was very young and it would not be advisable to risk such veracity as it would haunt the Biren Government till the end, as per the affidavit.
Informing him that there were over 150 personnel present in the entire operation along with independent witnesses, Brinda asked Asnikumar what she would tell the whole team and the public when they questioned her how the arrested ADC Chairman vanished alter the arrest.
Ashnukumar left the scene citing that he also understood the stand and that he was there just to convey the order of the CM.
Then around 11:00 am on the same day, Brinda stated that Asnikumar came back for the third time and told her that CM and Olice were adamant that she release the ADC Chairman under any condition.
To that, she says she replied, ‘I do not need this job and I came back to this service at the request of New Delhi on the promise that I would be supported in the works I do and can leave the job anytime if I am not satisfied. This attempt of the CM is to finish my career at the nip by destroying my credibility for his wife’s political interest. I will not release the man”.
In the meantime, the then SP lmphal West, Themthing also came to her residence. Asnikumar, Themthing and Brinda discussed the matter. She told both of them that it was not possible to release the ADC Chairman, reiterating about the danger of CM involving in a drug case of such magnitude and suggesting that the case be left alone.
On December 14, 2018, Superintendent of Police (SP), NAB informed her that DG had called for a meeting at 11:00 AM on the same day. She along with SP NAB went for the meeting at DG’s room at Police Head Quarters where the DGP enquired about the whereabouts of the Charge Sheet of the ADC case. Brinda informed that it had reached the court. When the DGP told that the CM wanted the Charge Sheet to be removed from the court, Brinda replied that it was not possible to do so as the Charge Sheet had already reached the court.
DGP then ordered SP NAB and Addl SP Brinda to send the IO of the case to the court and remove the Charge Sheet. Later, that evening, SP, NAB came back to his office and informed her that he had just come back from meeting with the CM and that the latter was infuriated that the Charge Sheet had still not been removed from court.
Next day, the then OC NAB, B. Rishikesh Sharma and IO reported to the SP, NAB and Addl SP NAB that one Advocate Chandrajit Sharma and the then lmphal West SP Jogesh Chandra came to the Lamphel Court and ordered both of them and the Special Public Prosecutor to hand over the Charge Sheet to them but they did not allow the removal of Charge Sheet.
On January 11, 2019, Judge Yumkham Rather, Special Judge NDPS Manipur wrote a letter to the DGP Manipur and the Secretary Bar Council of Manipur describing a grave development that took place in the said case of Lhukhosei Zou. In that letter, the Judge stated that on December 14, 2018, Imphal West SP Jogesh Chandra Haobijam, IPS and H. Chandmjit Sharma, Sr. Advocate had reportedly come and met T. Bipinchandra the Special Public Prosecutor at his office and had asked the IO to withdraw the Charge Sheet against Lhukhosei Zou, the affidavit stated.
The lady officer further stated that on March 31, 2019, one Imphal based daily published the news about how senior advocate Chandrajit Sharma and SP Jogesh Chandra tried to malign the drug kingpin’s trial. Around 8.30 AM, SP NAB called her over phone and told her to come to office. When she asked the reason, the SP NAB replied that order had come from DGP that NAB make a written public clarification that there was no pressure to remove the Charge Sheet. But Brinda told him how could that be possible as the pressure was very much there on both of them. However, SP NAB told they had been compelled to do so. To that, Brinda told that she could not make such public clarification from her side. The same day, SP(NAB) made a press release citing there was no pressure from anyone on NAB to remove the Charge Sheet from the Court.
The following day CM called SP NAB, SPP, ND&PS, Lamphel Court and Brinda to his bungalow in the morning where she was scolded by the CM saying ‘Is this why I gave you Gallantry Medal. There is something called official secrecy act also.’
B. Rishikesh Sharma, OC NAB, in his Affidavit filed on March 16, 2020 in connection with the BCM/DC Case No. 1 of 2019/510, stated that on the morning of 15/012/2018, he and SI Radhakishor NAB went to the chamber of Spl. PP to see if the charge sheet was withdrawn and what can be done as there was pressure. When they reached the chamber of Spl. PP, they found that the case record has already reached the Court on 14/ 12/2018. When they were in the Spl. PP, Jogeshchandra Haobijam SP and H. Chandrajit Sharma also entered the chamber of Spl. PP and enquired about the withdrawal of the charge sheet. The Spl PP who also entered his room informed them that charge sheet had already entered the system and it cannot be withdrawn from the record.
Brinda stated that she attended all the the bail hearings of Lhukhosei held on 24/04/2020, 8/05/2020, 15/05/2020, 19/05/2020 and 21/05/2020. During the bail hearing on 21/05/2020, the Judge passed adverse remarks against her for threatening the witness, failure to observe the court’s decorum and lack of supervision from the higher officers. It seemed that the Judge was not happy with her enthusiastic manner inside the Court room, though she said nothing to the witness. She clarified that she has no personal enmity either with the accused or the Judge but she was there to protect the interest of the State by assisting the Hon’ble Court being the Commanding Officer of the case and not for personal interest.
She stated that to mislead the Hon’ble High Court the Judge even stated conflicting facts in the said order dated 21/05/2020 regarding using of JitsiMeet App while in fact the video conference was done using VideoMobile App in violation of the Hon’ble High Court’s direction and moreover, the bail hearing on 21/05/2020 was done in open court.
In the May 21 order, the Judge had stated that the bail hearing was done ‘through video conferencing by using Jitsi Meet App. Such gross abuse of power by the Judge amounts to contempt of court itself and also misled the High court.
She clarified that her statement in the Facebook was not calculated to obstruct or interfere with the course of justice or the administration of law but was fair criticism on the conduct and character of the judicial officer or individual who was acting as a judge but who did not have the respect for the chair.
She stated that she was constrained to point out and expose the events through social media post as the judge or individual had repeatedly misused her position as a special judge and involved herself to favour the accused for extraneous consideration by allowing the course of justice to be emfluenced. Whatever she had done was for the cause of society and to safeguard the sanctity of court and for justice to prevail.