“I am not worried about my arrest, but they are harassing weak and poor people now,” said Thonaujam Brinda, a decorated police officer facing contempt proceedings (suo moto) by Manipur High Court after her remarks accusing Manipur Chief Minister of directly, and through his senior officials, “piling pressure” to let off Lhukosei Zou, a former chairman of the Autonomous District Council (ADC), Chandel who was arrested on charges of drug smuggling.
Speaking exclusively to News18, Brinda said – “Ordinary people who happen to be my family friends are being called to their (senior Manipur police officials) offices, threatened and harassed. I am now on compulsory waiting, which is next to suspension. I have not reported to police headquarters but am waiting for my disposal.”
This comes after Brinda publicly announced the death of 78-year-old Siraj Ahmed, the father of her family friend who she said was “harassed and threatened by higher officials of Manipur Police”. In a Facebook post on Thursday, Brinda stated that she had filed a complaint on July 27, 2020, to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on behalf of Md Sher Shah alias Gandhi for the “harassment” against his father.
“He complained of chest pain and discomfort from around 2 am and passed at 6.30 am today from high blood pressure at his residence following intense pressure from the government. Rest in peace, my dear loving Baba. Your sacrifice will not go in vain. This is my promise as a daughter,” wrote Brinda.
“Gandhi told me, my father just recovered from a long-time illness. He is anxious about the charges on me. We are poor people and have no backing,” Brinda wrote in her letter to the NHRC.
When contacted, a senior police official in Imphal said Brinda’s allegations are “her own views and assumptions” and that “no complaints have been received from anybody, so far.”
Recently, the lady officer was also detained by police along with two others for allegedly defying COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in Imphal.
“Now Additional SP and the other two occupants in the vehicle violated the Covid-19 lockdown guidelines, obstructed functioning of frontline workers, concealed her travel routes, and contact persons. And she freely roamed around in five districts with her friends in the most irresponsible manner,” read the press statement issued by Superintendent of Police, Imphal West district on Wednesday.
“They said I refused to stop and that I was in a white Verna. I don’t have any Verna. Everything is fabricated. I have been following the drug trade in Manipur very closely. I went to several places and along the NH-102B from Singhat to Churchandpur to find out more. There is no lockdown in Manipur as they try to project. I just drove with my siblings in the middle of the night,” said Brinda who was awarded the gallantry medal in 2018 and Chief Minister’s Commendation Certificate in 2019 for her contribution in curbing counterfeiting and smuggling activities in Manipur.
Thonaujam Brinda was instrumental in the arrest of Lhukhosei Zou in a major operation launched by Manipur Police last year. In her affidavit, the officer stated how she led a team of Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB) on the intervening night of June 19, 2018, and arrested Zou along with seven others, and seized 4.595 kg of heroin, 2,80,200 ‘World is Yours’ tablet, Rs 57.18 lakh in cash, another Rs 95,000 old currency notes, and several other incriminating articles from their possession.
Brinda is facing a contempt case for her “derogatory, defamatory and contemptuous” remarks on Facebook allegedly undermining and criticising the judiciary after Zou was granted interim bail by the court of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (ND&PS) Act on May 21, 2020, and after he was declared an absconder. In her affidavit on July 13, 2020, Brinda had also referred to the judge as “biased, incompetent, and lacking in integrity while dealing with the bail matter.”
Denying allegations that “she showed her middle finger to the learned Special Judge, ND&PS, and that she threatened the witness in court”, Brinda stated that whatever she posted was for “an individual who was occupying the seat of justice in the guise of a judge”.
She further wrote - “The menace of drugs is never taken seriously by the present system. The ‘War on Drugs’ is only an eyewash coined by the present system to gain political mileage.”
At present, Brinda said that her house is surrounded by armed police personnel and officials in civilian clothes in the name of providing security to her 76-year-old father-in-law, Rajkumar Meghan, who was the Chairman of the Manipur-based insurgent group United National Liberation Front.
“Some senior police officials visited our home on July 11, just before I submitted my counter-affidavit, and met with my father-in-law. My friend received a call from the highest level of the government stating that police have been installed as there is a threat to my father-in-law’s life. We agreed to their presence in civilian clothes, but that very evening, much against what was agreed, they installed police in uniform and questioned family members and friends going out from our residence. This is called harassment, not providing security,” said Brinda.
“They did change into civilian gear later and are now patrolling the entire periphery of our compound. I was again informed by my friend who received another call from the highest level saying that as per intelligence inputs from the Ministry of Home Affairs, my father-in-law wants to go underground again and so they are keeping a watch on him - contradictory statements. And now, he is being followed everywhere,” she added.
RK Meghen returned to Manipur after 44 years in November last year after being released from Guwahati Central Jail.