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Tashi Dema 

Fresh out of college, Lhamo, like many university graduates, was looking for a job in Thimphu. One day she received a mobile text message asking her to pay the money she borrowed.

Lhamo had not borrowed any money and called the number. There was an elderly man on the other side of the line. She had met the man through a friend before. She clarified the confusion, but that didn’t end the story.

The young graduate and the man kept in touch after the text message incident. They met and she claims that the 74-year-old businessman, offered to adopt her as his daughter.  “I adopted him as my father. He was so supportive and a nice man.”

But behind the new relationship there were many incidents happening without the knowledge of Lhamo. The man had been leaking video clips of their personal moments together.

Not long ago, in the beginning of last year, Lhamo said that she sought the man’s help in looking for a flat in Thimphu. She calls that the businessman offered her to stay in an empty flat in his building without having to pay rent.

Lhamo  and her friend shifted in the flat and the man visited them but she always addressed him as a father. “He would give religious talks and also took us around for pilgrimage.”

In  one of the clips the businessman released, Lhamo was seen feeding the man.  Lhamo claims that he tricked her to film while feeding him, saying it will be a memory of how a daughter took care of her father. “I never doubted his intentions. My friend was there with me when he filmed all the three videos.”   

She claimed that  he also filmed videos with her friend who is now worried if he would leak it on social media. “People will not understand how the videos were made, but would jump to conclusions and become judgmental.”

Not even a month after shifting to his flat, her friends told her about a video clip that was circulating on social media. She confronted him but he told her people were making up stories about them.

Worried and desperate, Lhamo threatened to report to police. The response shocked her. She claimed that the man tried to intimidate her saying the police would not accept the case and that he had good relations with all the police officers. “He brought mobile vouchers and claimed he was “recharging”  for police officers.”

When the three videos went viral on social media, her parents took her away, vacated the apartment and they lodged a police complaint against him.

In May last year, police registered the case as harassment case against the man. He was detained for a few nights and released on bail.

Two months later and still on bail, the man released another video clip claiming police questioned him unnecessarily and the complainant withdrew the case. “People said there is nothing wrong with the video. I have to actually counter charge,” he claimed in the video.

He demeaned Lhamo and boasted of having a university graduate feed him even when he didn’t want to eat. Police called him for an explanation. He was sent home with a verbal warning.

It appears he asked a parking fee collector to shoot the video and he boasts of 8,000 people viewing the clips he shared and made him popular.

Meanwhile, Lhamo is waiting for the  police to forward the case to the court. “I am hoping they will call me after the lockdown is lifted.”

 

The recent clip

During the lockdown, Kezang (another woman) was at home, flipping through her phone when her father called her to his room.

He showed a video of her with the same businessman that has gone viral. Her father beat her up. The family then complained to police.

Police, through their Facebook page, stated a case has been registered against the man and they are investigating it.

They also said he was under their ‘radar’ for a while but could not arrest him, as he was residing in a red zone and his building was ‘red building” meaning there were Covid-19 positive cases among tenants  of the same building.

But the damage was done.

The video with explicit scenes went viral prompting people to share it and  blaming the women for being gold diggers. Many commented  and  made fun of them, saying he was their ‘sugar daddy’.

Kezang was shattered. “I am worried of my family members and my children,” she said.

Police put her under counselling.

She said she met the man in 2017 when she was working in a private construction company, which he visited frequently.

“He asked for my salary and promised me a managerial post in his hotel, which is under construction in Gelephu,” she said. “I later found out that there was no hotel under construction and we never met.”

The class 12 graduate said she remembered him saying he was video chatting with his former wife but never realised he was filming her then. “I didn’t know he had this video for the last four years.”

Lhamo had to live through another nightmare too.

Netizens on social media uploaded the former videos and called her names. Some even got confused between the videos.

In the last trimester of her pregnancy, she said she is staying strong for her child. “My family members and in-laws are going through hell because of me,” she said. “There was nothing between me and the man. My only fault is I trusted him.”

She said while he must be enjoying the drama, the videos ruined her life.

The businessman, meanwhile, issued another video clip recently, claiming police and the complainant of the latest video should prove who leaked the video. “I am also in the video and it is evident I will not share the video.”

He said he has children and niece and nephews, whose image is impacted because of the video. “My children will lodge a complaint to the police and court also. They defamed me.”

He claimed he also lodged a complaint and police should register his case. “I appreciate police for investigating the case properly and not taking me to court.”

It was learnt the man had many such videos in his phone.

Just as this story is being written, another video is being circulated of the man with another woman.

All names of women are changed to protect their identity

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