If the murder of a schoolgirl in Yebilaptsa has left the family members in deep pain, it sure would have left the school community shell shocked.

As the news of the gruesome murder spreads, fanned by social media, and with the prime suspect confessing to strangling the 13-year-old to death, many are wondering how such a gruesome crime could be committed. That the murder happened in an institution where children feel safe and parents entrust the care to teachers, only worsens the situation.

It was a brutal daylight murder. The suspect will be dealt with appropriately by the law. But beyond the sentencing of the accused, talk is focused, at least for now on the number of murder cases in the country. The Royal Bhutan Police is still waiting for the forensic report on murder of a schoolboy and his grandmother in Trongsa two months ago. Two men are still in detention in Gomdar for the murder of a 60-year old man. They had allegedly killed him and threw his body in the river. We have not forgotten of another where a man was killed and thrown off from a building in Chang Jalu.

Going through our files, there are at least eight reported murder cases so far this year. Then there are other crimes and violence we see with increasing regularity. It is almost one every month. From the numbers, it is a little worrying not only because we are still enjoying the reputation of being the happiest country, but also for the safety of the people.

Often times, when a murder is committed, it makes headlines with every story ending with “police are investigating”, people express some fear or disgust and everything is back to normal. There appears to be a tolerant attitude to even gruesome crimes like murder in the country.

There is no clear answer to why people are killing each other. Each case will be different. There is no such thing as preventing murder. But going by the number of cases reported, it does demand some introspection. Are we becoming more criminal? Is our society breaking down as a community? Are we failing as a “happy” society?

For the outsider, we are the happy country. People might be a little surprised at the amount of crime we report. In the capital, the streets of Thimphu are no longer safe. If it is not safe to walk or even drive alone at night, some are becoming bolder. Thefts and burglaries are common and some have even experienced having their mobile phones snatched away in the middle of a conversation.

From the frequency of murders reported, the notion that serious crime in the country is non existent is a myth. The reality is we are dealing with it quite regularly.