Police in Phuentsholing are looking for non-Bhutanese man who fled after police and India’s Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) impounded a truck loaded with stones lifted illegally from Amochhu bank on April 28.

The police have seized the truck, which is owned by Bhutanese but was driven by the non-Bhutanese.

A source said that the truck was illegally lifting stones from Amochhu on broad daylight that day. The truck belongs to an individual from Thimphu.

Informants then contacted the agencies concerned.

This, according to Phuentsholing residents, is just a tip of an iceberg concerning such illegal lifting of stones and sand from the banks of Amochhu. The practice is rampant.

The recent incident, residents say, also proves that people from across the border use the Bhutanese trucks to lift sand and stones illegally.

“There could be many vehicles registered in Bhutanese people’s names and operated by people from across the border for the illegal business,” a resident said.

A truck driver, who did wish to be named, said that people from across the border invest financially while Bhutanese owners just register the vehicle in their name.

“It is a type of fronting,” he said. “The vehicles are not interrupted as they drive to Bhutanese soil.”

People from across the border use Bhutan-numbered vehicles to enter Amochhu bank from Jaigaon side.

The case was not forwarded to the forest office in Phuentsholing as of yesterday.

Regional transport officer with Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Phuentsholing, Karchung, said that the authority’s mandate is to just see the licensing, registering, and traffic management.

“In such cases, we can just help concerned agencies in providing vehicle details and updates,” he said, adding that since Phuentsholing and Jaigaon share a porous border with free trade and commerce, businessmen from both sides are “reciprocal in nature while doing business.”

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing