Army officer sent to police custody for robbing gold

Aizawl, May 6 (IANS) An army officer, arrested in Mizoram capital Aizawl on Thursday for allegedly robbing gold biscuits worth Rs.14.5 crore from a driver who brought hese from Myanmar in December 2015, was sent to police custody by a local court here on Friday, police said.

“Today (Friday) we have presented Colonel Jasjit Singh in a local court here and the court sent him to police custody. We would again present him before the court next week,” Aizawl Superintendent of Police Lalhuliana Fanai told reporters.

He said that during the police custody, senior police and intelligence officials would interrogate the army oficer to ferret other details from him.

Col. Singh is the commandant of the 39th Battalion of para-military Assam Rifles deployed in Mizoram. He was suspended from the service by the authorities on Thursday.

“The army officer, through his lawyer, on Thursday applied for an anticipatory bail to avoid arrest. But Aizawl District and Sessions Judge Lucy Lalrinthari rejected the bail plea. Singh was then arrested by the police on the court premises,” another police official said.

He said: “Singh was also suspended from service on Thursday night by Brigadier T.C. Malhotra, deputy inspector general of Assam Rifles and chief of Aizawl-based 23 sector of the para-military force.”

Police said they learnt of the robbery when the driver of a vehicle, C. Lalnunfela, carrying the gold biscuits worth Rs.14.5 crore, lodged a police complaint at Aizawl on April 21 that Assam Rifles troopers waylaid him on December 14 last year and at gunpoint robbed him of 52 gold biscuits.

Lalnunfela told the police that he lodged the first information report after almost four months as the Assam Rifles personnel had threatened him with dire consequence if he complained to the police.

“After an inquiry, police arrested eight Assam Rifles jawans and they are now in police custody. The arrested jawans told the police interrogators that they had committed the robbery on Col. Singh’s direction,” the police official said.

All the 52 gold biscuits smuggled from neighbouring Myanmar were later shipped to Guwahati where they were sold to gold traders.

Military intelligence officers from 3 Corps headquarters in Nagaland’s Dimapur came to Aizawl on Thursday to separately probe the incident.

Headquartered in Shillong, Assam Rifles — the oldest para-military force in India with a total of 46 Battalions — guards the unfenced 1,643-km India-Myanmar border with Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland, and is also deployed in militancy-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

The counter-insurgency-trained para-military force is commanded by officers from the Indian Army with administrative control of the union home ministry.

Two years back, another Army officer was arrested in Manipur while smuggling drugs to Myanmar through a gang.

Mizoram shares an unfenced international border of 404 km with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh. This offers immense scope for smuggling animals, drugs, arms and ammunition, and various other contraband across the border.



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