Bhutanese National Charged Under Arms Act of India

In a startling incident at Bagdogra Airport, a Bhutanese national, identified as Tashi Tshering from Paro, was apprehended with five rounds of AK-47 rifle ammunition during routine baggage checks last Thursday (February 8, 2024). The arrest raised concerns about potential security threats at the airport. Meanwhile, he was taken to Siliguri Court on February 9, 2024, and charged under the Arms Act, 1959 of India.

Tashi Tshering was scheduled to fly to Kuwait from Bagdogra via Chennai on that afternoon. The alertness of airport authorities during the standard security screening revealed the presence of bullets inside the passenger’s bag. Without delay, Tashi Tshering was taken into custody and subsequently interrogated by the authorities.

A local source from Siliguri told Business Bhutan that the convict is under interrogation at the Siliguri Court.

The accused has been handed over to the Bagdogra Police, and he now faces charges under the Arms Act of India. As per the provisions of the Arms Act, 1959, Chapter V of Offences and Penalties, Tashi Tshering could be subject to imprisonment for a term not less than seven years, extending to life, along with a fine.

The Bagdogra Police promptly informed the Indian High Commission about the incident, initiating contact with the Bhutan High Commission to address the matter diplomatically. The arrest underscores the necessity for international cooperation to tackle cross-border crimes and security threats.

The case was presented before the Siliguri Court on February 8, where the legal proceedings unfolded. Sources said that the charges against Tashi Tshering highlight the severity of the alleged offence, and the court determined the appropriate legal consequences based on the evidence presented.

The Arms Act, 1959, carries strict penalties for offenses related to the possession, transfer, and trafficking of arms and ammunition.

According to the Arms Act, 1959 of India, Chapter V of Offences and Penalties 1[(1)states that  Whoever— (a) 2[manufactures, obtains, procures], sells, transfers, converts, repairs, tests or proves, or exposes or offers for sale or transfer, or has in his possession for sale, transfer, conversion, repair, test or proof, any arms or ammunition in contravention of section 5; or (b) shortens the barrel of a firearm or converts an imitation firearm into a firearm 3[or convert from any category of firearms mentioned in the Arms Rules, 2016 into any other category of firearms] in contravention of section 6; or 4 (d) brings into, or takes out of, India, any arms or ammunition of any class or description in contravention of section 11, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 5[seven years but which may extend to imprisonment for life] and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 6[(1A) of the Act states, “Whoever acquires, has in his possession or carries any prohibited arms or prohibited ammunition in contravention of section 7 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 7[seven years but which may extend to fourteen years] and shall also be liable to fine.”

However, the Section 8 of the Act states, “Provided that the Court may, for any adequate and special reasons to be recorded in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.”

Business Bhutan learned that authorities are actively investigating the motive behind Tashi Tshering’s possession of the AK-47 ammunition and whether he had any affiliations with illegal activities or networks. However, the paper couldn’t ascertain the degree of violation by the convict. Sources also said that the arrest emphasizes the importance of robust security measures at airports for safety and security.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu