Law and Order: To deter and reduce vandalism of choetens and robberies of lhakhangs, the police are planning to install CCTV (close circuit television) and shock sensor technology.

The plan will see two CCTVs installed in each identified lhakhang.  The move is estimated to cost Nu 330 million. Some 476 lhakhangs, from about 1800 registered ones, were identified as more important.

Shock sensor systems will be installed in choetens.  Such a system would either trigger an alarm or alert authorities if a certain level of movement or shocks are detected on the choeten.

The plan was announced by the police chief, Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, at the opening of the annual crime conference held yesterday.

The police chief pointed out that paperwork for the proposal is ready and will soon be submitted to the home ministry.  He added that, if the police did not get the financial support to install the CCTV from other countries, the government and the lhakhangs would install the equipment on a cost-sharing basis.

“Most of the lhakhangs that were robbed didn’t have caretaker so installing a CCTV and a shock sensor system will be helpful,” Brig. Kipchu Namgyel said.

Since 1987, a total of 291 lhakhangs were robbed and 3,429 choetens vandalised.  In the past two years, a total of 565 choetens and 21 lhakhangs were vandalised and robbed.

In 2013, a total of 245 choetens and 10 lhakhangs were robbed.  The number of choetens vandalised increased to 272, while eight lhakhangs were burgled, according to police, last year.  In the first three months this year, 48 choetens have already been vandalised and three lhakhangs burgled.

The increasing number of such crimes prompted the police to form a special investigation team.  A total of 61 cases were solved by the team, and 112 people involved in choeten vandalism and lhakhang robberies arrested.

Of the 112 detained, 14 were not convicted and released.  The remaining suspects were forwarded to court.  Of the 98 suspects, 70 were found guilty and convicted, while 17 are still under trial, and 11 suspects released by the court.

Home minister Damcho Dorji said that it was not the responsibility of the police alone to protect the country’s lhakhangs and choetens, but the citizens as well. 

By Dechen Tshomo