What’s the Price For Being Honest Officer in India? Just Ask Manipur’s Thounaojam Brinda

Social Commentary

What’s the Price For Being Honest Officer in India? Just Ask Manipur’s Thounaojam Brinda

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Over the month, a decorated woman police officer in Manipur has been locked in a stand-off with the chief minister of the state.

It started earlier this month, when the officer, Thounaojam Brinda, made headlines after accusing Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh of foiling an investigation into a former BJP functionary who was alleged to be involved in drug smuggling.

On Tuesday, Brinda made headlines once again, this time after she was detained by the Imphal West Police for allegedly violating lockdown norms. In a lengthy Facebook post, the officer says she wasn’t released despite her husband agreeing to pay the fine.

The Manipur officer also alleges that the police had refused to explain why they were detaining her, took photographs, recorded statements, and let her off two hours later.

The police, on the other hand, said the occupants of the car, which included Brinda, refused to provide details of their travel and exhibited a hostile attitude.

But this is just one of the charges levelled against the Manipur officer in the last month. Earlier, when she approached a local court with an affidavit of her claim against the chief minister, the court initiated contempt proceedings against her, reports said.

The contempt charges were related to another Facebook post, in which the officer apparently questioned the court’s decision to grant bail to the former BJP functionary in the drug smuggling case. The court also accused her of showing a middle finger to the judge, a charge that she denies.

Before she was embroiled in this controversy, however, Brinda was a decorated officer in the state. Last year, she was ironically honoured by Manipur’s Chief Minister for the “biggest ever drug bust” in the state’s history, after raiding a clandestine drug lab.

A year prior to that, in 2018, the officer was awarded a Police Medal for Gallantry in recognition of her continued effort to curb smuggling of drugs in the state. She was promoted to additional superintendent and given a “Commendation Certificate” by the chief minister in recognition of her work.

The current case against the former BJP functionary also dates back to 2018, when the officer claims to have found drugs worth Rs 27 crore at his official residence. However, this time, as charges continue to pile on the officer, it doesn’t seem like she’s getting any more medals for her hard work.