The tragic death of a four-year-old boy whose body was found by the Wangchhu in Thimphu has left the people disturbed. A tearful plea by the boy’s mother after he went missing went viral and became the talk of the town just as the rumours that followed his disappearance.
Police say that they are still investigating the case; little or no information has been shared after the boy’s body was found. A brief update that was posted on the facebook page of the police stating that the missing boy was located and reunited with his family was not only grossly misleading, but also highly insensitive. As one of the first to respond to complaints and to initiate investigation, the police or those who handle the social media pages could be more specific while sharing information about cases they are working on. The update left many asking if there was another boy who had gone missing and was found or whether handing over the body of the missing boy was as good as a case of reuniting with the family, at least to the law enforcing body.
The post, it appears, has now been removed but questions remain. It may be just another case to the police but this particular situation gripped the country and its people with the boy’s aggrieved family. It is hoped that, perhaps this time, this one time, the case wouldn’t be treated as just another case that gets reported as being ‘still under investigation.” This line has become all too familiar to the public given the way it is replicated in most news stories.
What is worrying, however, is that it took a child’s death to highlight the plight of working and single parents in urban Bhutan. Facilities such as daycare centres and work place crèches have opened in the city but affordability remains an issue. The high cost of living in the city compels parents to divide their time between children and work. Often they are left at the care of grandparents, relatives or babysitters and tragic events such as this, although rare, resonate with all parents.
It may be a coincidence but it has often taken death or something drastic for policymakers to spring into action. For instance, it took the death of students in Orong for the education ministry to address nutrition deficiency in boarding school meals. It took the death of infants for the health ministry to assess the quality of pentavalent vaccines given to babies.
How is it that a society that champions happiness for its people and preaches compassion as a way of life is unable to give care and time to its children, the society’s most vulnerable? How long is Bhutan going to link such tragic incidents with karma? For a small society like ours, even a death is one too many. Our children are not just the future, they are also our present.