Police seize 159 baskets of betel leaves
THOUBAL, 19th May: Khongjom police confiscated huge quantities of betel leaves found transported into the state from Assam amidst nationwide lockdown to contain COVID-19 pandemic and arrested six persons including owner of the betel leaves in connection with the case.
The confiscated betel leaves numbering at least 159 baskets were detected when locals of Papal Mamang Leikai in Thoubal district stormed a brick-field located nearby on Tuesday morning.
The locals barged into the brickfield after receiving information about the betel leaves unloaded from a truck.
Locals informed that the brick-field belongs to one Kangabam Jadu of Charangpat Mamang Leikai. He contested 11th Manipur legislative assembly election from 32-Wangkhem assembly constituency. They also said that a Tata truck bearing registration No UP 20 AT 2678 entered the brick-field late Monday afternoon in an unusual way. Suspicious over unusual parking of the truck inside the complex for long hours and remaining overnight there, large number of locals and leaders of local organisations and Meira Paibi stormed the brick-field complex at about 7.30am Tuesday and found large quantities of betel leaves kept at workshed of the brick-field.
The locals also informed that driver of the truck hails from Punjab and he disclosed that the betel leaves were brought from Khatkhati (Assam) on May 17 and reached the brick-field Monday afternoon. The driver, however, knew nothing about purpose and owner of betel leaves. Irked over transportation of huge betel leaves amidst the lockdown, locals pulled around 30 baskets from the workshed to local playground and started setting them afire.
However, a team of Thoubal district police led by additional SP (Ops) Sachidananda Soibam and additional SP (LO) Lakshya Sharma reached the site and prevented the locals from destroying the betel leaves.
Suspicious over concealment of more betel leaves inside the complex of the brick-field, police teams along with locals raided rest room of the brick-field and found more baskets of betel leaves. When locals started spraying herbicide to destroy betel leaves, police prevented them and assured of taking necessary action. As per an understanding reached with locals, police confiscated all the betel leaves and took the consignment to Khongjom police station at about 10.30am.
Meanwhile, a police source informed that at least six people involved in transportation of betel leaves including the owner have been arrested later Tuesday.
The arrested includes owner of the betel leaves namely Kangambam Shantidas (40) son of Dijamani of Charangpat Mayai Leikai and Shantidas’s brother and owner of the brick-field Kangambam Jadu. The others are Sanjay Choudhury, 43 son of Arjun Choudhury of Thangal bazar Khoyathong road, Birendra Saha, 39 son of Khellawan of Motihari, Bihar but presently residing near Uripok Cheirap court, Kulvinder Singh, 43 son of Chain Singh of Punjab and Adnan Khan, 21 son of Jahid Khan of Uttar Pradesh.
A police source informed that altogether 157 baskets of betel leaves were seized from the brick-field and two more baskets were later recovered from the residence of Santidas.
Apart from the truck, police also seized a numberless Toyota Fortuner found parked inside the complex of the brick-field.