Former Tendu gup Pema Wangchuk, who filed the complaint against the serving Tendu gup Nima Dukpa, who is also the Samtse dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) chairman, for alleged gambling said he did not lodge the complaint for personal interest.

“I respect the DT chairman for his post but instead of stopping other people from gambling, he was also involved,” he claimed. He said that it is his fundamental right to complain as a citizen.

Pema Wangchuk said that it is a leader’s responsibility to lead by example. “It is not that I want to be the next gup. But we all have roles to play.”

He said the recent Kuensel story “Samtse DT chairman appeals against dungkhag court”where gup Nima Dukpa has accused him of lodging the police complaint to end his political career was one-sided. “I am dissatisfied and hurt,” he said.

Pema Wangchuk said his right was violated and that he would consult with concerned authority and seek justice.

On March 2 this year, Pema Wangchuk had filed a complaint against gup Nima Dukpa and other five men, who were involved in alleged gambling at Kachin in Tendu, Samtse. A video clip was also submitted as evidence.

On July 18, Tashichholing (Sipsu) drungkhag court sentenced Nima Dukpa to a one-month prison term and the other five defendants to two months prison term each. They were all found guilty of gambling during a picnic organised at Kaching ECCD, Tendu on the New Year eve.

Nima Dukpa said it is a common Lhotsham culture to play cards during celebrations and festivals for leisure. “People even play cards while attending funerals.”

He said anyone could become a victim while playing cards by people who have personal differences. “I had not staked any money there.”

In the earlier story, Nima Dukpa had also accused former NC member Sangay Khandu of threatening him at his office compound.

However, Sangay Khandu said he was deeply saddened by the story and that he owes an explanation to his friends and well – wishers.

“It is already common knowledge that Tendu gup Nima Drukpa has personal differences with the former gup. Both sides have accused each other for corruption and misuse of power,” he said. “While the present Gup had filed repeated complaints to both ACC and RAA ever since he took office in 2016, the former Gup dragged him to the court. As an elder to both of them, I took on the responsibility to mediate and reconcile between them a few times but all in vain.”

He said he was named in the story, which was irrelevant.

“I was with my friends celebrating new year on January 1, 2018 (Monday) when one DB Gurung who was sent to fix some plumbing issues at my house the day before came to me saying he was called to the gewog office and that the Gup scolded and warned him for working for me,” he claimed. “Since I was in casual dress and headed for a informal celebration, it wasn’t appropriate for me to go to the office. So, I called the Gup to come out of his office and spare a few minutes so that I could find out what had happened. We only had a brief conversation and cleared the issue. In fact I had even forgotten about it.”

Sangay Khandu said that the accusation against him of using a gun and threatening to harm the gup is shocking. “It is interesting that I am hearing about it right now, after seven months and on the verge of my election campaign,” he said. “I have been referred to as PDP candidate and contrary to what was alleged, for me it certainly looks like the intention is nothing but to malign me and my image, as the election draws near.”

Meanwhile, the court judgment stated that since the defendants didn’t have past criminal records and are not habitual offenders, the court granted an option to all defendants to pay thrimthue or fine in lieu of imprisonment within 10 days.

However, section 36 (a) of the Local Government’s Act of Bhutan, 2007, states that: “A person shall be disqualified as a candidate or a member of a local government, if he has been convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment.

The defendants were convicted under Section 393 and 394 of Penal Code of Bhutan for a petty misdemeanour. Section 393 states that: “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of gambling, if the defendant stakes or wagers something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under the defendant’s control or influence upon an agreement or understanding that the defendant will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

Gup Nima Dukpa has appealed against the judgment to Samtse dzongkhag court.

Rajesh Rai and MB Subba