Storm after the calm

We are poor farmers. Why are we attacked? This is a question victims of kidnapping often ask as villagers along the borders in Gelephu and Sarpang live in insecurity.

The answer is straightforward. They are simple villagers and easy prey for miscreants from across the border. The fear of kidnapping has returned to Gelephu after a momentary calm. It has spread to other villages and farmers are alerted. But this will die down as in the past.

Security along the highway has been tightened after the incident. Armed men are patrolling the highway. Villagers are wishing if it had happened before the kidnapping, a misfortune could have been avoided.

There are many questions. How to ensure the safety of the people living along the porous border? How to prevent kidnapping? And how to diffuse such a situation without causing harm to both victims and abductors?

Kidnapping is an organised crime. Therefore, there is no permanent solution to it. As it brings easy money, kidnappers are abreast of the development along the border. They know we cannot afford permanent security along a long porous border. They snatch every opportunity. Ransoms are always demanded in millions.

The two governments, including at the local level are in constant touch, but we are dealing with miscreants from across the border. This makes it a formidable task to prevent this organised crime.

The government when they took over said they have done all they could to tighten border security, as well as carrying out regular patrolling in the affected areas. They also warned people living along the border to be vigil and not expose themselves to risks of kidnapping.

But people are getting kidnapped from their homes, from workplace and at times from crowded places. The risk is everywhere. The villages and homes have not become safe.

Ironically, the incident happened just across the border, not far from an army watchtower. There was no security at the outpost as the kidnappers walked beneath it. We can understand how the victims could have felt when they passed that outpost.

The feeling among the villagers is that the government is not doing enough or are complacent. This is because they feel security is tightened only after an incident. In the meantime, the kidnappers are becoming bolder. If it was kidnapping in broad daylight before, they are coming in Royal Bhutan Army uniforms.

Not to deride the effort of those engaged in border security, the miscreants are not deterred by our efforts. They are not even deterred by joint operations carried out in the past. And there is no single target we could focus on as miscreants could belong to different groups or sometimes they could be a group of men from a village across the border.

We cannot rule out more kidnappings in the future. They have got a hang of it. What we can do is strengthen the security on our side of the border. Security at all times and not only when kidnapping happens.

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