Yangyel Lhaden

Business owners in Thimphu are alleged of deceiving police and DeSuups on duty and operating businesses after 9pm.

This resulted in arrests of 19 people in the last 19 days.

Police sources said that on December 6, a restaurant owner was arrested after he locked the restaurant from outside but allowed 17 people to drink inside. “We had to wait for 30 minutes outside, as the owner refused to open it,” an official said.

On December 5, the patrolling team found a large gathering in an extended room of a restaurant operating without a licence. “Following this case, trade officials are also patrolling every shop in the capital for licence,” according to police.

Police said that while people were fearless and least bothered of the patrolling around the clock, customers even challenged officials on duty.

“We detain customers who challenge the police for a night while other customers are released on surety basis with an undertaking,” the officer said.

Of the 19 business operators arrested, 15 availed bail and four arrested between December 3 and 6 are processing their bail.

Police charged all the 19 business operators for violating section 448 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, which is breaching public order and tranquillity.

The offence is graded a petty misdemeanor, which is compoundable.

Meanwhile, the government issued directives that all business establishments should close by 9pm and that business owners should vacate the business entities before the time. “Nobody would be spared after 9pm, not even 9:01pm,” an official said.

Officials said that people came to the police station to seek approval for such as marriage party, birthday, extension of time for dance practice, and house consecration on a daily basis.

The police officials said that since large gatherings are not allowed, police advised people to follow 50 percent capacity and 9pm curfew. “If we receive complaint about large social gathering, we inspect and warn them,” the officer said.