Yangyel Lhaden

Thimphu police arrested 10 business operators for allegedly breaching public order and tranquillity by operating businesses after 9pm.

The arrests were made in the last five days.

Police sources said seven business people from town and one each from Taba, Changzamtok and Changjiji were arrested between 9pm and 10pm.

The first arrest, according to police, was made on November 18, where three business operators were arrested. The others were arrested on November 20 and 22. The accused include bar, snooker hall, restaurant and grocery owners.

Thimphu police claim they have been cautioning business operators to close down before 9pm but people were not abiding the guidelines set by the government.

Officials said that they issued a notification on November 17 through Royal Bhutan Police HQs Facebook page asking hotels, bars, and any other business establishments not to operate after 9pm. “The notification also stated that social gathering with a large number of people is not allowed,” an official said.

The official said that following the Facebook post, Thimphu police started arresting business owners breaching the rules. “Customers in those business establishments were released on surety basis.”

Police charged the 10 business operators for violating section 448 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, which is breaching public order and tranquillity. The three business operators arrested on November 18 availed bail.

Meanwhile, business operators are alleging that many bars operate until morning at the outskirts of the town.

Police officials said they received information of bars operating throughout the night but they did not arrest any owners as of yesterday.

“We went in plain clothes to check but it was closed when we went out to check,” an official said.