… The MP and his kin are convicted for illegal road construction in a restricted area, among other charges

Thinley Namgay 

Khamdang-Ramjar Member of Parliament (MP) Kuenga Loday has been sentenced to five years in prison by the Trashiyangtse dzongkhag court yesterday for illegal construction of a road in a restricted area.

The court also sentenced his brother, the Khamdang Mangmi, Sangay Tempa to four years and three months in prison for his involvement.

The other four men,  three are Mangmi’s sons, were also convicted for their involvement in the case and sentenced to three years and nine months each in prison.

The court allowed all defendants to pay thrimthue in lieu of their prison terms.

In early 2020, three sons of Sangay Tempa started vegetable farming on 15 acres of family land at Khosung in Khamdang gewog.

In March that year, they applied to the dzongkhag agriculture officer (DAO) for approval to construct a farm road. However, DAO denied the request as their land is located along the Dangmechhu river towards the border, which is restricted for road construction.

Then they filed a request to Trashiyangtse dzongdag seeking to march a machine for land development. The approval was denied as marching involved inadvertent excavation due to hilly terrain.

Then Mangmi Sangay Tempa personally visited the dzongdag, requesting approval, but it was denied. MP Kuenga Loday called the dzongdag seeking him to reconsider the decision. The dzongdag gave the same response.

In the meantime, defendant Karma Loday returned from Kuwait and joined the other three in farming.

In September 2020, the defendants marched the machine. The dzongkhag environment committee investigated and found that the excavation measuring 233 metres in length and 4.8 metres in width was constructed.

The committee chaired by the dzongdag conducted another round of investigation on October 6, and levied a fine. MP Kuenga Loday then called the dzongdag to waive the fine. However, the committee revoked the earlier decision as it became a national security issue.

The criminal complaint was lodged to the Chief of Police on October 12, 2020, seeking an investigation. The MP again called Trashiyangtse dzongdag to resolve the case as a civil case.

Police in Trashiyangtse detained the MP on the evening of March 1 this year. The MP was detained along with Karma Loday. Before that Mangmi Sangay Tempa and his three sons were arrested and were sent on bail.

MP Kuenga Loday was convicted of malicious mischief, for which he was given one year and nine months prison term. He was sentenced to nine months in prison for breach of public order and tranquillity and sentenced to another one year and nine months for violation of Road Act, 2013. Hindering prosecution charge has been altered by the court to obstruction to lawful authorities and he was given a prison term of nine months.

Khamdang Mangmi Sangay Tempa was sentenced to one year and nine months for malicious mischief, nine months for breach of public order and tranquillity, and 21 months for violation of Road Act.

Other accused Karma Loday, Sangay Thinley, Sangay Wangdi and Karma Tshering were convicted of the same charges but with a light sentence of three years and nine months each.

In addition, the defendants are fined Nu 59,660 for violation of the Environment Assessment Act.

The defendants were acquitted for violation of the Land Act 2007 since the court found no encroachment to state land. The defendants Kuenga Loday and Sangay Tempa have been cleared of the official misconduct charges.

Edited by Tshering Palden