Tsamdro: In what is an indication of the volatile grazing rights and tsamdro (grazing land) issues, a 50-year old man was battered and another injured when they decided to solve the issue physically on October 24.

Every winter, herders of Khashuding in Merak gewog migrate to Rephu, also in the gewog, for two months, to let their cattle graze in their community tsamdros. Khashuding herders claim it as their community right to graze their cattle in Rephu. However, the man who was battered, Cholo, 50, claimed that the cattle had encroached his tsamdro area.

According to Cholo, who also complained to police about the fight, the cattle of Khashuding herders repeatedly trespassed into their tsamdro every year and the numbers were growing. In the afternoon on October 24, he had an argument with a herder.

Cholo said the incident started after a young Khashuding herder said he would take the matter to the tshogpa. “Around 7pm, he returned with the tshogpa and few other herders,” he said. “The argument turned into a fight where they snatched my knife and beat me, my wife and son. They dragged me out of my house then.”

When he was being dragged to a nearby area, Cholo said, a lay monk intervened supporting the herders. Cholo’s son who was following him started a fight to defend his father.

“In the exchanges, my son accidentally cut the lay monk on his forehead and hand. The knife belonged to the lay monk,” he said. “They threatened of killing me if I reported the case to police,” Cholo alleged. “I have been bedridden since then. So is my wife.”

Khashuding tshogpa, Tshering Dorji, however said he was called over the phone by a herder and went up to Cholo’s place to sort the matter together with four Khashuding herders.

“As the issue was worsening, I thought of visiting Cholo personally. When we arrived at his place, they were waiting for us with knives,” tshogpa Tshering Dorji said. “Moreover, he had also damaged the wooden fencing we had made to keep our calfs, cut off the cattle ropes and damaged milking tools.”

The lay monk, he said, was intentionally hit by Cholo’s son with another knife he was carrying.

“While the lay monk tried to save his head with his bare hand, he suffered cuts above the eye and hand,” the tshogpa said. “I tried to stop the fight but it became uncontrollable.”

After the incident, Cholo’s brother reported it to Trashigang police around 2:15am. The next day, the matter was forwarded to Sakteng police. Police had already left for investigation.

Meanwhile, Merak Mangmi said a physical brawl between Khashuding and Rephu Brokpas was waiting to happen as the rights over tsamdro boundaries was an old nagging issue. “A clear cut solution should be sought to stop this from worsening,” he said.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang