Trashiyangtse dzongkhag court on May 31 sentenced Serpang-Shali tshogpa, Dorji Wangdi, of Khamdang gewog to two months imprisonment for spreading false alarm on the presence of headhunters (khekpa) in the gewog.

According to the verdict, the tshogpa confessed to the offence as per section 84 and 85 of the Evidence Act of Bhutan and acknowledged that he did spread the message through a social media app, WeChat, without verifying the facts.

He claimed that he was not aware of the law although he is also one of the local government officials, stated the verdict.

Dorji Wangdi was charged under Section 488 of the Penal Code of Bhutan that states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of false alarm, if the defendant circulates a report or warning of an impending bombing or other catastrophe knowing that the report or warning is false or baseless and that it is likely to cause public inconvenience or alarm.”

The offence is graded a petty misdemeanor.

However, the tshogpa was granted an option to pay thrimthue of Nu 7,375 for 59 days as per national wage rate of Nu 125 per day in lieu of imprisonment. He was detained for a night on May 15 and released on bail the next day.

Trashiyangtse police charged Dorji Wangdi for spreading false alarm on the presence of headhunters in the gewog. According to police, the tshogpa reported in a parent-teacher WeChat group that three men (two non Bhutanese and a Bhutanese) believed to be headhunters had entered Khamdang gewog in Trashiyangtse on May 3.

The first information report (FIR) filed by police stated the tshogpa, with the help of a teacher of Khamdang Primary School, turned the voice recording into mp3 format and posted on the WeChat group.

The FIR stated that with over 102 members in the group, the message went viral overnight.

Kuensel learnt that the tshogpa had paid the thrimthue of Nu 7,375 in lieu of imprisonment.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang