.. she wants officials to be held accountable

Nima | Gelephu

The Umling drungkhag court in Gelephu conducted the first rebuttal hearing of the 37-year-old businesswoman, who was charged for breaching mandatory quarantine protocol, yesterday.

Police in Gelephu charged the woman for breaching public order and tranquillity as per section 448 of the Penal Code of Bhutan in November last year.

The businesswoman submitted to the court that concerned officials should also be held accountable for the breach of the protocol.

She said she travelled to Thimphu after getting the necessary documents from the officials on duty. “I never lied to the concerned officials that I got approval from the incident commander (IC) to get the travel documents.”

She said that she was not aware of the procedures and the officials concerned did not share anything regarding the protocols while processing the documents. “I wouldn’t have travelled without the documents.”

Sarpang dzongkhag implemented mandatory seven days quarantine for routine travellers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The incident commander secretariat office coordinate and issues the movement of routine and emergency travellers out of Gelephu.

Any movement from Gelephu, which is considered a high-risk area to a low-risk area, is routed through the incident commander (IC) secretariat office working under the direct supervision of the incident commander, who is the Sarpang dzongdag.

The accused had obtained a special vehicle permit, mandatory quarantine, and Covid-19 test certificates that were provided to the emergency travellers after seeking prior approval from the IC.

The official documents required to process emergency movement include referral letter, admission letter, undertaking letter, and Covid-19 test result. The movement permit is issued if the traveller tests negative.

The businesswoman had secured the special permit from an escort official, a de-suup, on duty.

She submitted to the court that it was the duty of the official to crosscheck the proceedings with the concerned authority when people request the permit.

It is alleged that the woman did not stay in quarantine but obtained the quarantine and Covid-19 test report.

She was, however, quarantined on November 8 in Thimphu after officials learnt she travelled without obtaining the permit from the dzongkhag IC secretariat.

Meanwhile, the court would conduct an independent hearing for the officials involved in providing emergency travel documents to the businesswoman tomorrow. The officials include three health officials and the de-suup coordinator.