A tale of two Samrangs

Security: Samrang gewog in Samdrupjongkhar sits right next to an Indian town, also called Samrang. There is no border wall that separates the two causing concerns in Samrang gewog.

It is about time Bhutan had at least a check post to monitor a the border, say the villagers. Any security system there will make them feel safe.

Samrang used to be a part of Pemathang gewog before it became a separate gewog in 2011. Gewog officials monitor border activities, but they can’t be there always.

Tobgay, 63, a farmer, said that movement of people between the two Samrangs has increased over the years with many development activities taking place.

“We haven’t had serious problems yet, but who can anything about the future?” said  Tobgay. “We need police here just like they have SSB guards on their side. With economic growth, population on both sides is increasing by the day. Security will become an issue.”

People from India Samrang come to Bhutan Samrang mainly because alcohol is cheaply available.

Ganga Singh Chettri, 60, said that after the problem in the south in the 1990s, Samrang was pretty much abandoned. Until recently, the gewog was largely a thick forest. Settlements have come up now and the gewog’s population is growing with people from others dzongkhags settling in the gewog.

“We now feel the need for security forces at the border, not to restrict people from the other side to enter the gewog. We need to make sure that movements are controlled and our people are safe,” said Ganga Singh Chettri.

Gup Man Bahadhur Gurung said the gewog would benefit immensely if it had a customs office. Guwahati is not far and trade could benefit both the gewog and the drungkhag.

“People have to buy all necessities from Samdrupjongkhar,” said Man Bahadhur Gurung. “Trade with Guwahati would help cut cost by much.”

With development projects increasing in the gewog, demand for labourers has also increased. There is thus the need for an immigration office in the gewog. Currently, labour permits have to be processed from immigration office in Samdrupjongkhar.

Gewog officials raised the issue with the Prime Minister and Home Minister during their recent visit to the gewog.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupcholing 

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