Three detained, two released on bail in two separate cases

Rinzin Wangchuk

After Covid-19 restrictions ceased in April, the capital city has been witnessing a sudden surge in crime causing fear among the residents.

Residents claim that many young people carry knives in the town. “We often hear about young people involved in gang fights, battery and drug abuse,” said one resident.

“We also heard that a group of young people assaulted a non-Bhutanese after a brawl over a woman at the City Bus stand, one of the most crowded and busiest places in the town,” a working woman in her late 30s said. “It is not safe to move around in the town, especially at night.”

Thimphu City police officials said that they started mass patrolling on May 27 after witnessing a surge in crime. “Mass patrolling has helped reduce battery and assault cases over the last two weeks,” Officer-In-Charge (OC) of Thimphu City Police, Lt. Colonel Gembo Penjor said.

Police registered 18 cases, mostly battery cases, in the past two weeks. This month, according to police, after the mass patrolling started the number of cases has dropped to 13 cases. OC Gembo Penjor said that most people involved in battery cases were aged between 16 and 35 years.

The most common offences reported in the capital city today are assault or battery, including domestic violence, larceny and crime related to controlled substances. “Such offences are committed due to late-night bars, many entertainment places and loitering of young peole during odd hours,” OC Gembo Pejor said.


Abuse of paint thinner

Although the overall cases of illegal possession and abuse of drugs drastically reduced over the recent months due to the closure of international borders, an increasing number of minors and youth in Thimphu is seen abusing inhalants or solvents like thinner. “This is a new challenge the police is facing today,” OC Gembo Penjor said.

A thinner is a volatile solvent used to dilute or extend oil-based paints or clean up after painting.

Since thinner is not listed as part of inhalant or solvent in the Schedule of the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015, Kuensel learnt that both police and Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) don’t have a testing kit for thinner.

OC Gembo Penjor, however, said that the police are discussing with BNCA to include thinner as part of solvent in the relevant Schedule of the Act.

Stabbing and display of weapon

Based on a tip-off, police arrested two suspects, 24 and 25, for being involved in the stabbing and assaulting of their 27-year-old friend in a restaurant in Thimphu. The victim sustained two injuries on the head after they attacked him around 4.35pm on May 29.

“The victim is in stable condition,” a police official said.

Earlier on May 25, Thimphu police detained three men, aged 43, 32 and 26, for malicious mischief near Thimphu city’s Clock Tower. Two men, 43 and 32, armed with knives went in search of the 26-year-old restaurant owner around 8pm. They stabbed at the door when he refused to open it. They had also a personal grudge, according to police.

Thimphu Dzongkhag Court on June 7 granted bail to the two suspects, while one was denied bail as he had a criminal record.

An official from the crime and operations said that suspects and culprits involved in both the cases were detained and investigations were completed. “We will charge them before the court,” Colonel Pasang Dorji said. “There is nothing for the public to panic.”

He said that police did not receive a report about the alleged assault of a non-Bhutanese near the City Bus stand.

Cautioning the people not to spread false information, Colonel Pasang Dorji, who is also the deputy chief of police, appealed to the public to be responsible and help police in curbing crime in the capital city.

He said that the police will continue with the mass patrolling frequently.