Yearender/Law and order:As if the spate of kidnappings and robberies along the border towns were not enough to keep them occupied, the horse year sent the police bolting into action to nab escaped convicts, solve a cold blooded murder at Central Plaza, and call one of their men, accused of rape and assault, mentally unstable.

Although crime rates were reported to have declined by almost 16 percent from the previous year, the horse year saw a 30 percent increase in cases involving possession of controlled substances, and a 10 percent increase in its illegal transaction.  Wangdue police nabbed a couple with 2,890 capsules of Relipen, 3,728 capsules of Spasmoproxyvon and 3,880 tablets of Nitrosun-10, one of the biggest drug busts in the year.

Youth made up almost 60 percent of the 950 people that were arrested in connection with drugs, which have assumed the status of birthday gifts.  Given the increasing number of youth coming into conflict with the law, police had to make four lifesize frames to display weapons seized from youth in just a year.

The police chief had meant business when he had said that they would intensify its crackdown.  And just as the horse year came to an end, police announced that they would start frisking youth for weapon, if found in groups of two or more after 10pm.

Police will now seek approval from the home ministry to ban the sale of knives to youth, and to impose a restriction on youth loitering late at night.

Mongar police arrested 47 people for vandalising 48 chortens in different dzongkhags and the year saw 521 battery, 393 larceny and 296 burglary cases.  The country reported 43 rape cases, including 13 among minors.

But the capital maintained its top position in crime with 891 cases, followed by Chukha at 389 and Paro with 182.

By the time the horse year was about to gallop off into the sunset and let the sheep take its place, through a citizen’s arrest, police locked up the prime suspect in the Central Plaza murder.  Following a quarrel over a si kam curry, the men threw bricks at each other, and eventually ended up with the victim being incapacitated, after being hit repeatedly on the head with a brick.  The body was then dragged and thrown off the balcony.

Police also detained three suspects for selling Bhutanese SIM (subscriber identity module) cards to non-nationals from across the border.  Some of the mobile numbers of the SIM cards provided or sold by the three suspects were used to demand ransoms for kidnapped Bhutanese.

Bhutanese felt a bit safer plying the Alipurduar highway, after Alipurduar district police nabbed eight men involved in robbing Bhutanese commuters.  But the nine car owners, whose vehicles were damaged and burned following the death of an Indian maid in Samtse, are still waiting to be compensated.

Even as new policies and plans are enforced, the police still need the corporation of the people to make the city and country a safer place. For, in the words of the police chief, “we’re not here to fight a battle, but to request the cooperation of the general public.”

Dechen Tshomo