…her family still awaits justice almost 9 months after the incident

Yangyel Lhaden 

A woman who was left severely injured when a streetlight pole collapsed on her in April last year in the Changjiji housing colony, died on New Year’s Eve at the JDWNR hospital.

She will be cremated today. She is survived by her husband and three children.

The Babesa Police registered a case against the National Housing Development Corporation Ltd (NHDCL) and forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in May. On September 8, the OAG charged the NHDCL for criminal nuisance and sought Nu 4.23 million (M) compensation for the 58-year-old victim.

The Thimphu court has conducted five hearings of the case till date.

On April 18, the victim was returning home after buying yarn from a shop in Changjiji housing colony when a rusted electric pole collapsed and hit her head and broke both her legs. She underwent leg surgery and had been bed-ridden since then.

The victim’s husband said that he went to the police, the OAG, and the dzongkhag court several times, requesting a quick conclusion to the case. “My wife was in so much pain and her health condition was deteriorating by the day.”

After the incident, the victim’s husband said that the entire family struggled to make ends meet.

They were a family of seven. The victim, who used to weave in Changzamtog, lived with her husband, who ran a small cloth shop, daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren.

After the accident, her husband closed his shop. The husband and daughter looked after the victim. When money was short, he borrowed money from his friends and relatives. He sold his van as well.

The husband said that it was not easy for one person to look after his wife, which was why he had to close the shop. “There was no one earning in the family. I used all my savings to conduct rituals for the victim, travel expenses for visits to the hospital, and offices.”

He said that as the court case took time, he wanted to appeal to authorities. “My wife was concerned about my debt and used to tell me not to become aggressive, as we might lose what we are entitled to get, and to think of life after her.”

“She used to say -‘I don’t think I will get justice. They are waiting for me to die’,” the husband said.

A few days before she passed away, officials from the court and OAG came for the second time to investigate the victim’s health status. “By then, her health had worsened so much, and the Thimphu Court instructed the NHDCL to compensate them with Nu 500,000 for her health treatment,” he said.

The woman’s leg began to swell with abscesses, and she complained of a burning sensation. She was admitted to the JDWNRH, operated on, and moved to the intensive care unit.

The next day, OAG called the husband to collect money from the NHDCL for the treatment. He picked Nu 250,000 from the OAG office and was returning to the hospital when he was informed his wife had passed away.

“What use is the money now?” he said. “I pray such a thing will never happen to anyone else.”