Police investigates tsamdro dispute

Update: Sakteng police are interrogating seven people involved in a clash over grazing rights between the highlanders in Raphu, Merak that occurred on October 24.

Police said the five suspects and two complainants would be interrogated.

While one of the complainants Cholo is not in a condition to walk, police is escorting Cholo and his wife through the Jomotshangkha – Samdrupjongkhar route while the five suspects have taken the Merak route.

According to police, the Khashuding tshogpa was not involved during the fight that occurred on the night of October 24. The tshogpa had gone to Raphu to resolve the issue.

The tussle between Khashuding tshogpa and Cholo was over the tsamdro boundary at a place called Chubar. Cholo claims that the tsamdro at Chubar belongs to him while Khashuding herders said it is their community tsamdro.

Seven households of Khashuding claim their grazing rights at Rephu, which they say is a practice being followed for generations. However, instances of few cattle encroaching into one another’s claimed areas are common as well.

With cattle of Khashuding herders trespassing into Cholo’s claimed area, he along with his wife and son restricted the herders from crossing a bridge to the tsamdro area.

Police said Cholo threatened the herders with stones.

Following the incident, a herder called the Khashuding tshogpa. A lay monk also accompanied the tshogpa to settle the issue with three other herders. When the tshogpa arrived Cholo was waiting with a knife at his hut made out of tarpaulin sheets.

While the visiting group managed to seize Cholo’s knife, his son who is a juvenile hit the lay monk with a knife. He sustained minor cuts above his left eye. He was later referred to a nearby BHU at Jompa.

Police investigations found out there were no clear-cut demarcation of the tsamdros, without any fencing works to indicate the boundary. Police also affirmed that Cholo’s wife was not battered as stated in his complaint earlier.

After the suspects and the complainants reach Sakteng police outpost, statements would be compiled and police would be able to further comment on the case.

Meanwhile, the tussle over the right to tsamdros between the northern gewog herders of Merak, Sakteng, Radhi and Phongmey among others is a nagging issue.

Although people used to quarrel verbally in the past, observers said that this incident indicates that the issue is only worsening and it won’t be long when people could even take lives.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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