Netizens accuse police failure after video clip went viral

Yangchen C Rinzin  

A video showing inmates at Chamgang central jail in Thimphu protesting against alleged   police brutality has raised eyebrows. Many are now asking how inmates managed to get phones inside the jail.

Shouting out “we want justice,” inmates in the video alleged that the new officer-in-charge of Chamgang jail has been beating prisoners ”like cattle.”

“In the name of reform we’ve been beaten up. What to do if they beat up, we’ve to also beat them back so, you all decide and give us justice,” a prisoner says in the video that  went viral. A prisoner can be seen shouting about how police allegedly mistreat them.

Some are heard calling out to the Chief of Police to hear their grievances and give them justice. An inmate interviewed by the videographer accused of partiality in the treatment of inmates, calling out names of two inmates who he said were given special treatment.

A police official at the jail told Kuensel that the video was made to divert the ongoing investigation the police were doing on the phones and drugs smuggled inside the jail.

The official said that police were already looking into a case where they seized phones from inmates and contravened drugs after they learnt that phones and drugs were being supplied by visitors.

“We were investigating and have seized phones following some tip-off, some from the visitor themselves while checking and some were seized directly from the inmates,” the official said. “The investigation could have made prisoners unhappy and instigated such incidents to happen and recorded the hues and cries.”

The official said that they seized almost 30 mobile phones last week. Kuensel learnt that police have seized almost 80 mobile phones so far.

The official added that the investigation once completed would be handed over to the Division XI police, who will then investigate the case including the viral video and claims made by the inmates.

However, some are questioning police’s failure to conduct strict monitoring and letting such incidents occur.

“If there was strict checking before entering the jail, how did the visitors manage to take phone or drugs inside? Blaming the visitors does not justify the police’s lapses or their failure to monitor,” one said.

Another private employee, who visited a friend in prison recently, said that it was not possible for visitors to take in those things (phones and drugs) without support from those on duty. “Because, whenever I go to see my friend, I’m frisked thoroughly.”

Such a case was not the first time. In 2019,  police investigated a massive drug case in the central jail where more  than 1,000 capsules of spasmo proxyvon plus (SP+) got into the jail. However, despite the investigation, supply of drugs or phones still remain.

Some police officers agree that such incidents show a lapses on the police side and indicates those involved did not perform their duty.

Edited by Tshering Palden