Where do missing people go?
This is one issue that has not only remained a mystery, but has also the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) concerned.
In a span of over 16 years from 2002 to 2017, a total of 840 cases on ‘Missing of Person’ were reported across the country.
However, the Superintendent of Crime Division, Colonel Tshewang Rinzin, said the figures might not be accurate as they are still compiling the data.
Sixty-four cases of MoP were reported in 2004 and this increased to 183 in 2014.
Colonel Tshewang Rinzin said the reason for having a high MoP figure was because the cases of elopement and people absconding are registered under MoP.
“It’s why the figure appears alarming. Even kidnapping cases are included in the same category though it does not fall in the criteria of MoP,” he added.
Meanwhile, the police website also has details and photographs of missing people. There are also cases of people who have gone missing after embezzling funds and unable to pay back loans to banks and loan sharks.
Attributing to no follow-up from the complainants after they register the case of MoP to police has been one of the main reasons why the figures of MoP have been on the rise.
“People don’t come to police after they have found the missing person to withdraw the case and we assume the person is still missing. The addresses of the complainants along with their mobile numbers are changed which makes difficult for us to trace them for any follow up,” the Colonel added.
In most cases of MoP, complainants do not have recent pictures of the missing people, which add another hurdle for police to investigate and find the person. However, they circulate the picture and details of the person to all the police stations and check points for further investigations.
The Colonel also acknowledged that there was no systematic procedure due to which the figure on MoP seems high. Cases such as that of babysitter, laborer, elopement and monks running away from dratshang have been included in MoP.
However, Colonel mentioned that Standard Operational Procedure (SoP) has been drafted to work on the MoP so that there is no duplication of figures. “Currently we are working on compiling the figures and am sure the figures might come down from what it was before. There should not be more than 25% of MoP cases registered,” he said.
Confirming that there is no trafficking issue, the Colonel said the MoP is a serious issue and police are looking in depth as to why people are missing. Missing of female is considered sensitive.
Colonel Dorji Khandu said that out of 800 registered cases of MoP, today 59 cases are pending in Thimphu. Police have not been able to find the bodies of around five to six cases of MoP.
Chencho Dema from Thimphu