Accident: The Royal Bhutan Police has now decided to declare zero tolerance to death of children due to fire accidents.

On September 9, two children were killed in a fire accident in Phuentsholing. Ten days later, on 19 October, three girls and a boy were referred to Thimphu hospital after they suffered 30-50 percent burn in a fire accident at the Jaigaon side of the Chinese Lane. They were left locked inside a room when fire occurred.

Many such cases have occurred in the past. Many will occur if measures are not taken to address the problem. The thing, however, is that such incidents are becoming common by the day. Working parents have no choice than to lock their children inside when they go to office. Accidents can and do happen.

Law enforcers will now see that such incidents do not occur in the future. Parents and caretakers will be charged according to the relevant sections of the Penal Code. According to section 144 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, person guilty of negligent homicide will face at least 5 years of imprisonment, and reckless endangerment will have the guilty  locked up to a minimum of 1 year behind bars.

It has been found that children die in fire mainly because of negligent attitude of parents and caretakers and poor fire safety practices in living spaces.

What is required as immediate measure is for the houses to have safety outlets and options put in place. Hazardous living conditions need to be explored and corrected wherever correction is necessary to guarantee minimum fire risk.

Lt Col Karma Tshering of the Fire Department said that the police and the relevant agencies will hereon create awareness in schools and high-risk places. “This is not to give trouble to people but to stop preventable tragedies.”

Jigme Wangchuk