Security: The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) will submit a proposal to the government to install shock sensors on a thousand choetens in the country.

Police Chief Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, during a press conference held on May 11, said that the proposal is ready and only has to be submitted. “Our project target is to begin with about 1,000 choetens across the country.”

However, Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said that while it is too early to comment on the cost of the project it will be affordable and economical for the government.

The installation of the shock sensor system for choetens is one of the crime prevention measures being pursued by the police. The sensor will either trigger an alarm or alert authorities if a certain level of movement or shocks are detected on the choeten.

The police chief said that the equipment has been tested in a choeten and it proved to be effective. The equipment has been installed in two choetens in the country.

“We are trying to sensitise about the system to the government and government seems to be positive about it,” Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said. “If this proposal gets through then we can save our choetens from getting vandalised.”

A shock sensor equipment has four batteries that will have a life span of two years. The police chief said that the device would be in a sleep mode, and will get activated when the choeten is disturbed. Therefore there will not be a recurring expenditure, he said.

The device has a provision for a SIM (subscriber identification module) card that can accommodate 10 mobile phone numbers.  When the choeten is disturbed or if somebody digs into the choeten, the 10 people who have their mobile phone numbers saved in the SIM card will be alerted.

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said that the name and location of the choeten installed in the device would be displayed when the choeten is disturbed. For instance, if somebody digs into the Jungshina choeten, the 10 people will receive an SMS first with the name and location of the choeten and then an alert call.

Another feature of the sensor is the presence of a microphone. Any conversation that takes place around the choeten will be broadcast to the 10 mobile phones, the police chief added.

After the shock sensor devices have been installed, responsibility of the choetens will be handed over to the respective dzongkhags.

Another crime prevention measure the RBP is working on is to install CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras in lhakhangs in the country. For the last one year, RBP  has been sensitising caretakers and owners of lhakhangs in the country about the benefit of having CCTV cameras in lhakhangs. The police chief said that individual and respective lhakhangs have to bear the cost of installing CCTV cameras while RBP will collaborate to float tenders to install the CCTV cameras in the lhakhangs.

“About 160 lhakhang owners and caretakers volunteered that they will bear the cost of installing CCTV cameras in their lhakhangs,” Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel said. “In the long run, we can protect our religious artefacts.”

Dechen Tshomo