Crime: Pemagatshel police on November 7 arrested three men in connection with two choeten vandalism cases at Thongsa in Chongshing gewog.

Police said a farmer found them digging one of the choetens on November 6 around 8pm.  When he questioned them, the men pushed him and escaped.

The suspects are a freelance tourist guide, a class 12 dropout and a civil servant.

The farmer alerted the villagers and informed police immediately suspecting that they could be hiding in the gewog. However, the men drove towards Chimong gewog.

Police said that prayer books, four statues and a few coins were missing from both the choetens. Thongsa is about 35kms from Pemagatshel.

“Having vandalized the first choeten, they were vandalizing the second choeten localed about 50 meters away when the farmer spotted them,” a police official said. “The sped away when villagers tried to stop them.”

Police spotted the Martuti Alto car in which they travelled about 200 meters below the road, but the men had fled to a nearby forest.

Aged 18 to 30, the suspects resided in Thimphu while two are from Chongshing gewog and one from Trashigang. They were caught the next day with the missing relics from Khangma village in Yurung gewog around 9pm on November 7.

An informer tipped off police about the men.

“The informer was suspicious as the men told villagers that they were teachers and had come for a meeting,” a police official said. “As the informer found that there were no meeting as such in the village, he informed police immediately.”

Upon inquiry, the suspects told police that their vehicle veered off the road. However, none of them were injured. The case is under investigation.

The police official said that the men had also removed the number plates and the vehicle documents, which made it difficult for police to trace the details. “But it seems that the crime was well planned,” he said.

Police said villagers should always inform police immediately if they witness any suspicious activities or unknown people in their gewogs.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar