Tashi Dema

If we look back at crimes committed in the year of the Pig, the unsolved murder cases of two minor girls, one raped and the other suspected of rape, would remain etched in Bhutanese minds for the heinous crimes against girls.

We enter the new Male Rat year as curious as the rat, wondering who committed the crimes against the minors in Paro and Dechencholing.

In Paro, the eight-year-old girl was raped and murdered on her way back from school in September. The gruesome details of the case were not reported in mainstream media but have gripped Paro residents with fear and shock.

While police nabbed suspects and collected more than 980 DNA samples, the case couldn’t lead to any conclusion. People are yet to know who is responsible for the gruesome and brutal rape and murder.

There were also many reported rapes and sexual molestation cases of minors, but finding the body of a 10-year-old girl in Dechencholing, Thimphu, who went missing in broad daylight alarmed people. 

Forest officials said wild animals to be the probable cause of the girl’s death. Police also ruled out sexual assault. Forensic medicine and toxicology report, however, ruled otherwise.

Police’s inability to solve the case caused more panic and grief to the people, with many fearing that the perpetrators are freely roaming.

In Dagana, a five-year-old was raped when her mother, who is a caretaker in a school, went for duty and left her with the stepfather.

Perpetrators of sexual assault against minors included local leaders, including a gup and a tshogpa, teachers and guardians. All the victims of sexual assaults were from economically disadvantaged families.

Police recorded 302 cases of violence against women until October last year. This means almost everyday a woman was abused either physically or mentally. Wife battery is the most common violence cases reported across the police stations in the country.

The Office of the Attorney General, the state’s prosecuting agency, had to seek the highest sentencing and damaging compensation in child abuse cases.

Among the usual crimes of assault, battery, burglary, forgery and smuggling, smuggling of gold cases in Paro and smuggling of controlled substances were the highlights of crimes. Murder incident in Phuentsholing, where an Indian contractor dismembered his wife’s head and disposed it off in Toorsa, grabbed headlines.  

Gold smuggling also dominated crime news in the year of the Pig. The chase for gold smugglers, who bring in gold from the northern borders, has led to numerous seizures of gold biscuits, as high as 52kgs at a go. The smugglers robbed each other and a member of a patrol team was also implicated in a 31kgs gold case.

While many people, including minors, were sentenced for smuggling controlled substances, it was not known whether anyone was held accountable after police investigated a drug bust of more than 1,000 capsules of spasmo proxyvon plus (SP+) in Chamgang central jail, Thimphu.

While sources told Kuensel that more than 2,000 capsules of SP+ were found inside the jail, a police source said they seized more than 1,000 capsules based on information, which was about to be smuggled inside the jail.

It was learnt that eight inmates were brought to headquarters for investigation but it was not known if anyone was charged to court for the crime. SP+ is graded a schedule III controlled substances, possessing or trafficking more than the permissible limit would mean a prison term of more than five to nine years.

Even a tshogpa was implicated for marijuana smuggling in remote Serthi gewog, Samdrupjongkhar.

Towards the end of the year, police discovered a new method of ferrying controlled substances. Huge quantities of controlled substances were seized from Bhutan Post while police also recovered Khat, a plant species, being routed from Bhutan with its origin in Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, many people lauded the sentencing of a driver in Samdrupjonkhar, who transmitted HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Samdrupjongkhar police arrested the 38-year-old driver from Trashiyangtse in April last year after a victim lodged a complaint against him.