Lhakhang owner sues thromde over land ownership issue

Thromde: Following a dispute between Samdrupjongkhar thromde and a private individual over the land where the thromde’s only Zangtopelri is located, the private party has filed a case against with the Samdrupjongkhar district court.

This was following a notification sent by the National Land Commission that directed Thinley Dorji, who constructed the lhakhang, to hand over the land to the thromde.

Thromde official then notified him to surrender the land in a month.

The Zangtopelri and two double storied buildings are constructed on the 44,072 sq feet land. The notification from the land commission was in response to Thromde’s investigative report submitted to the commission claiming the land belonged to government.

The dispute over the ownership has been discussed over the years including in many thromde tshogdes after the thromde was established.

Thinley Dorji, 72, claimed the land belonged to him. He said he has all the relevant documents and lagthram to authenticate that the land and Zangtopelri belonged to him since 1981 when he constructed the Zangtopelri.

“I don’t see why I should give away the land when I have been paying land tax of at least Nu 16,000 every year for 30 years now,” he said. “I showed all the documents that proved the land belonged to me, yet thromde is claiming the land,” he said. “That’s why I decided to approach court for a fair decision.”

Thinley Dorji explained that the former Kidu lyonpo (home minister) and the then Samdrupjongkhar dzongdag had issued a kasho allowing him to construct the Zangtopelri and he received a lagthram (land ownership) in 2007. The Kidu lyonpo he referred was late Lyonpo Tamshi Jakar.

“If it was a state land why did they charge land tax and allowed me to construct the buildings,” Thinley Dorji said.

The thromde’s land record officer Namgay Wangdi said they knew about the court case only after they were summoned to court on Tuesday. He added they were only following the commission’s notification.

Namgay Wangdi said although Thinley Dorji has the documents but the lagthram doesn’t specify proper ownership. According to the documents, he was asked to supervise the construction work, he said. “It is not clear how he got the land.”

He explained that although the ownership certificate was issued, it was different as in the ownership category it was mentioned as “Zangtopelri, C/o Thinley Dorji”. “No lagthram would have that kind of details other than the person’s name. The information is not clear.”

He also didn’t have the allotment order, which is the most important document neither a kasho that could authenticate his claim.

However, he said they would wait for the court to decide on the case.

Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar

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