Tshering Palden 

Iron Female Ox Year- Crime: Besides the frequent breach in Covid-19 protocols, the number of rapes, especially those of minors, spiked in the Year of the Iron Female Year.

A 12-year old schoolgirl was raped in Samdrupjongkhar. It was only when she was about to deliver the baby that those around her realised about the crime. A man in his late 30s allegedly raped an eight-year-old boy on the way when he was returning home from school.

According to police records, there were 75 rape cases recorded across the country in 2021 an increase of more than 41 percent of cases reported in 2020.

The suspected rape and murder cases of Diana Koirala in Dangrina, Thimphu and another girl in Paro still remained a mystery. Officials said that the police force can do much more with more qualified experts in solving cases and a decent laboratory and forensic equipment.

The police force suffered humiliation when a senior member of its top brass was relieved unceremoniously for failure in his duty.

The Deputy Chief of Police for crime, Colonel Dorji Wangchuk, was terminated with benefits in June after serving a few months of suspension. Police investigation into the conspiracy case and sedition case by Khandu Wangmo revealed that he had tampered with evidence in a different harassment case where she was involved. He had served for 36 years and would have superannuated this year.

As Covid-19 continued to rage through Phuentsholing in the year of Iron Female Ox, frontline workers at the border kept vigil. On an unsuspecting March morning, a hero emerged.

A Police constable, Suk Raj Suba serving at the Pemaling Out Post in Phuentsholing under Chukha was injured after bravely preventing the entry of miscreants from across the border into the country.

At around 4:30am March 9, Chuma Suk Raj Suba along with Chuma Sonam Wangchuk, De-suup Juna Rai and DeSuup Gita Devi Koirala were on patrol when they saw suspicious movement about 50 metres away from the outpost. Four miscreants were attempting to enter the country. One of the miscreants hit Chuma Suk Raj Suba with a knife (khukuri) injuring his three fingers. Chuma Suk fought back with a stick and the miscreants fled across the border.

In another incident, a policeman was caught on camera calling out to those from across the border to return home for safety and creating awareness about the pandemic. The video became an instant hit on social media, many applauding his vigilance and efforts.

The Female Ox Year also saw many of the weaker sex, also some men, silently become victims of domestic violence mainly during lockdowns.

According to NCWC and RENEW, there were 76 reports of domestic violence, including nine cases involving male victims, between January and February 2022. Thimphu has the highest number with 31 cases. Other cases came from Wangdue Phodrang, Paro, Chhukha, Bumthang, Gelephu, Samdrup Jongkhar, Punakha, Trongsa, Trashigang, Dagana and Samtse.

The cases are mostly related to emotional and physical abuse and most of them, who sought help were between 25 and 40 years.

The pandemic not only made people ill but also landed many behind bars.

Despite strict rules in place, people still continue to breach Covid protocols. In just a year and a half since the pandemic hit the country, the Police in Thimphu arrested more than 150 people.

Some were caught discreetly travelling on foot during lockdowns. Two men had walked to Punakha from Thimphu. Samtse dzongkhag installed CCTV cameras to monitor compliance to Covid-19 protocols in public spaces.

But it was not just ordinary people who breached the rules.

The health ministry took administrative action against two doctors for breaching the Covid-19 protocol. Their promotions were withheld. A medical officer from Gedu had gone to Phuentshogling to conduct training on Covid-19 vaccine rollout for health workers in the second week of March. After the training, he returned to Gedu without undergoing the mandatory one week quarantine.

The other doctor facilitated his travel from the high-risk area to the low-risk area. The ministry notified all health workers to strictly abide by the protocols.

Some were also caught illegally importing chillies and other banned substances like controlled drugs and tobacco.