Yangyel Lhaden

Seventeen days after the nationwide lockdown, the Thimphu Police received 102 cases—prowling (58), domestic violence (15), and substance abuse (29).

Every day, at least six individuals are taken to the detention centre.

The crime branch of the Thimphu Police has to patrol around the clock through the zones to ensure that people do not breach lockdown protocols. They have to also convey all the people who committed crimes to and fro. Additionally, with those who wishes to register their cases.

Thimphu Thromde and gewogs are divided into 44 zones. Six Community Police Centres—Taba, Motithang, Changzamtog, Changjiji, Babesa, and Khasadrapchu are assigned a police officer each.

Officer in Command (OC) of Thimphu Police Station, Gembo Penjor, said that they tried their best to keep people away from the police station as the whole team was residing inside the police station. “We are on Covid-19 duty but cases pop in regularly and we have to take action.”

Intoxicated persons who are caught by the patrolling team are taken to a temporary detention centre for a night and are handed over to their parents or guardians the next day with warning. For non-severe cases, they are not detained.

However, persons with past criminal record are detained for the case to be interrogated after lockdown. So far, only one person has been detained.

The patrolling team also came across 29 persons aged between 14 and 30 sniffing thinner and marijuana. After the lockdown, they will be handed over to Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency for counseling.

For verbal domestic violence cases, the victim and abuser are counselled over the phone. However, domestic violence battering cases are called to police station, interrogated, and the cases are registered. The OC said that so far they did not receive any severe battering cases.

The domestic violence cases registered would be further interrogated after the lockdown. The husbands are handed over to the relatives on a surety agreement.

All cases which need further investigation and charge sheet to the court  after the lockdown are sent on surety agreement, the OC said.

The OC said that the challenges the police faced was the reality of Covid-19 itself and to ferry persons to and fro who wished to register their cases which needed additional manpower and additional expenses which exceeded their fuel allowance. “As far as possible, we encourage people to solve their problems at home but if one wishes to register the case, we are there are you.”