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Police in Thimphu are investigating a case involving two taxi drivers and two non-Bhutanese men after officials from the Department of Immigration arrested them since June 14.

Immigration officials, based on information received that some taxi drivers are ferrying labourers without permit, conducted thorough checking along the highway and arrested the taxi drivers and non-Bhutanese men from Hongtsho.

Of the two taxi drivers, the 26-year-old man is from Punakha and the 27-year-old from Pemagatshel. The two non-Bhutanese are from Cooch Bihar.

Immigration officials forwarded the case to police on June 20.

Investigation revealed that the taxi drivers make the non-Bhutanese, who are construction workers, walk via a different route when they reach Rinchending checkpoint in Phuentsholing and Chukha checkpoint to bypass the immigration.

It’s alleged that the taxi drivers are ferrying illegal immigrants to make easy money as they receive Nu 7,000 to 10,000 each for bringing in an illegal immigrant from Phuentsholing to Thimphu. The taxi fare is otherwise Nu 650-750.

Police sources said while the two non-Bhutanese men are charged as illegal immigrants, the two taxi drivers are charged for transportation of illegal immigrants, which is a fourth-degree felony with prison terms ranging from three years to five years in prison.

The offence of illegal immigration is graded a petty misdemeanor and is compoundable while the offence of transportation of illegal immigrants is non-compoundable.

Police officials said they treat the cases seriously, as it could pose a serious threat to the security in the future.

Meanwhile, as immigration officials were conducting series of checking, they detained six non-Bhutanese who came in as tourists but prolonged their stay in the country by working in hotels as chefs and cooks.

Immigration officials detained a 36-year-old tour agent based in Thimphu, who brought the non-Bhutanese as tourists and made them work in various hotels.

Immigration officials forwarded the case to police and investigation revealed that of the six tourists, two arrived on April 9, one on April 30, two on May 5 and one on May 6.

Police officials said they are investigating the case.

Staff reporter

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