The lhakhangs will purchase the equipment at their own cost

Security: A total of 296 kyonyers (caretakers) have agreed to install CCTVs (close circuit television) in their lhakhangs following a nationwide sensitization on lhakhang and choeten vandalism that the police conducted last year.

Installation of CCTVs in lhakhangs is being pursued to prevent robberies and vandalism, among other crimes.

The police have already identified two firms that will supply CCTV equipment to the lhakhangs at a reasonable rate. The two firms will supply the equipment for Nu 49,400 and Nu 53,296 each.

Besides the 296 lhakhangs, all superintendents of police (SP) have been asked to coordinate with lhakhang caretakers in their respective dzongkhags to install CCTV.

RBP’s spokesperson, deputy chief of crime and operations Colonel Dorji Wangchuk said that the caretakers could buy the CCTV equipment directly from the suppliers with the help from the SPs.

Chief of police Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal said that the installation of CCTVs will prevent vandalism and burglary. “It can be monitored through mobile phones even if a lhakhang is managed by a lone caretaker,” he said, adding that it is a convenient and useful method. “A minimum of two cameras each is recommended for each lhakhang.”

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal also said that the installation of the CCTVs would not cost the national exchequer, as the cost will be borne by the respective lhakhangs.

Police said that even prominent monasteries don’t have CCTVs while those in place are not functioning.

Records with the police show that offenses against the Ku-Sung-Thukten is one of top seven crimes in the country and one of the most heinous. Last year, 129 such offenses were reported from 230 the previous year.

Police attributed the drop to the hard work of the special investigation team that was formed following an increase in such cases. Last year the team forwarded 140 offenders to the court of which 78 were convicted.

“We are taking it (choeten and lhakhang vandalism) seriously and the special investigation team will continue its crackdown,” Brigadier Kipchu Namgyal said.

In the last 27 years, about 4,000 choetens and lhakhangs were vandalized, which translates to 148 a year. In 2014, police recorded a 12 percent increase in cases involving offenses against the Ku-Sung-Thukten or statues, scriptures, and lhakhangs.

On the monitoring and implementation part, police said that with recording facilities it would not be difficult. However, it would be further discussed with the respective caretakers.

“The cameras will have to be placed at strategic locations and the quality of the image should be good without which it will not serve the intended purpose,” Colonel Dorji Wangchuk said.

Changangkha Lhakhang installed six CCTVs last month at a cost of Nu 76,500.

Changangkha Lhakhang’s Lam Yeshey is hopeful that people will be more cautious within the lhakhang premises besides preventing robbers from entering.

Lam Yeshey also said that currently he monitors the lhakhang from his house without having to go around the lhakhang premises. “In future, we will upgrade the system so that we will be able to monitor it from our mobile phones,” he said.

Similarly, Dechenphu Lhakhang also has plans to install CCTVs to safeguard the lhakhang.

Kinga Dema