Security: Between three to five police personnel each will be deployed in Talung, Bji gewog in Haa and Tsento in Paro to deter smuggling, Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) chief Colonel Chimi Dorji announced during the recently held Local Government Chairpersons’ Conference (LGCC) in Phuentsholing.

The police chief said that there are a number of reasons to post police personnel in the two gewogs, primarily smuggling of sandalwood and gold.

“Smuggling has to be curbed,” Colonel Chimi Dorji said. “People will think we are not letting them live but we cannot allow illegal activities to thrive anywhere.”

The police chief explained that it is difficult to get information related to smuggling from these places because the public is not cooperative. Given that the public is not providing information, the police will move into the villages and mix with the people. Police personnel will be sent to the two gewogs in February.

Bji gup Passang said that this is a good move. “It is important because it is for our security as well,” he said.

Colonel Chimi Dorji also pointed out that police personnel will be stationed in the remote settlements of Laya and Lingshi in Thimphu dzongkhag within this year.

The police chief said that he would eventually visit all 205 gewogs to determine if a gewog needs police personnel stationed in a particular gewog.

Samdrupjongkhar’s Dewathang gup, Leki Wangchuk, said that being located close to the border with Assam is a challenge. “Today an increasing number of miscreants enter the gewog without our knowledge,” he said, adding that it is a potential security risk.

Samtse gup, Wangchuk Lepcha, pointed out that the border route from Bukay-Doban in his gewog is a problem because it passes through India and that incidents of theft and burglary have occurred. The gup said that a police outpost is needed in the area. “We have also informed the Prime Minister about this during the mid-term review,” Wangchuk Lepcha said.

However, Colonel Chimi Dorji said that the problem is not limited only to Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar and that there are problems being faced in other dzongkhags.

Referring to the kidnapping cases in Sarpang, the police chief emphasised that villagers in the border areas should be mindful of illegally bringing people from across the border into the country. If people from across the border are brought in, they must come through the proper and official channel, the police chief pointed out. He asked the local leaders to raise awareness among the people on the issue.

Colonel Chimi Dorji also shared various examples of how crime is increasing in the rural areas. Choeten vandalism, he said, is the most noticeable crime to have increased in recent years. “There are a very few choetens today that have not been vandalised,” he said.

It was also pointed out to the gups that drugs cases are also increasing in the rural areas. Police have caught more than 15 farmers from Belangdra in Wangduephodrang growing and selling marijuana to youth and some are still serving time in prison.

Colonel Chimi Dorji said that the police will come to the gewogs so that the local leaders could talk more freely and in length about issues being faced.

Meanwhile, gups said that stationing police personnel at the gewog level would help. “Although we are located in a border area, we don’t have many problems,” Samtse’s Sangachholing gup, Kalyan Pradhan, said. “But still having police personnel in the gewog will mean a lot for security.”

The ninth gup conference, which started on January 15, concluded on January 18.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay attended the opening ceremony. Gewog utility vehicles were also distributed to all 205 gups on the first day of the conference.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing