National Drug Task Force directs RBP to check military vehicles

In an unprecedented move towards addressing the menace of drug issues in the country, Phuentsholing Police have now begun checking armed forces vehicles at the Rinchending check post. According to the Nation’s only broadcast media, it means that no vehicles of the Police, Royal Bhutan Army and the Royal Body Guard would go beyond the integrated check post without being checked. Foreign military vehicles will also be checked at Rinchending.

The report says that until now, armed forces vehicles, including foreign military vehicles were not inspected at the check posts across the country. However, the police in Phuentshogling recently received directives from the National Drug Task Force to extend these checks to such vehicles.

“This is basically to curb drug issues in our country. Also, I am sure it will help us in curbing the incidences of undeclared goods, controlled items, and other illegal items in armed force vehicles,” the report quotes, Captain Shacha Dorji, officer commanding, Phuentshogling ICP.

It is also said that sniffer dogs are assisting in inspecting the vehicles. There are four sniffer dogs already in Phuentshogling and the police would soon receive another two.

Meanwhile, this comes close to interactions that the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) had with the media earlier, where it was reported that RBP recorded 953 drug-related offences from January to July this year indicating an exponential rise in the trend. 

Dorji Khandu, senior superintendent police of narcotic drugs and other vices division, Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) had said the situation is alarming. “Drug use and trade is flourishing and trafficking is increasing as we share a porous border with India from where the majority of drugs are peddled.”

Records at the RBP’s narcotic drugs and other vices division show that, just in little more than six months this year, the RBP apprehended 1,754 individuals.

March saw a significant surge in the number of drug-related arrests nationwide. 336 individuals were arrested with 176 reported cases. Drug-related crime for the beginning of year started with record of 80 cases which led to apprehension of 146 individuals while 242 were apprehended in February.

199 cases were recorded in May which led to the detention of 240 individuals. The case again increased in the month of June with 155 reported cases involving 276 individuals. July saw a slight decrease with only 134 cases involving 253 individuals.

RBP arrested nine men in August for trafficking and possessing SP Plus, a prescription drug containing tramadol. Majority of the arrests were made in Phuentsholing, Thimphu, Gelephu and Trongsa.

Senior superintendent of police, Dorji Khandu, said that 90% of perpetrators involved in drug crimes are men and that the rising crime rate in the country is a concerning situation and everyone should come in hand to tackle the situation.

Colonel Dorjee Khandu had also said that awareness program for the public is very important as many people are not aware of the consequences. He said counseling classes by the teachers in the school and advice from parents are required.

Colonel Dorjee Khandu had shared that the police is also accepting all kinds of reporting and protects the identity with rewards. Earlier, people used to hesitate to report to the police as the police keeps all the details of the persons who report. Now the police has done away this.   

The highest drug-related crime was reported from Thimphu with 306 cases followed by 276 cases from Phuentsholing. 60 cases were recorded from Gelephu followed by 57 cases from Samtse. Paro and Samdrup Jongkhar recorded 53 cases each till 13 July.

It is stated that these pharmaceutical drugs are trafficked from across the borders in India and SP plus is the most commonly abused drug in the country.

The RBP had also said that crime rates in the country has been increasing and fluctuating. However, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) remains resolute to combat any form of crime and ensure that there is safety in the society. 

Deputy Chief of police, crime and operation division, Colonel Passang Dorji said that the yearly crime rate in the country keeps fluctuating and crime cases in the country depends on individuals. The deputy chief of police said that the main reasons for the fluctuation in the crime rate and crime cases is due to the combined effort of the police and the people as a whole.    

Colonel Pasang had said that the duty of the police head quarter is to plan, program and strategize and analyze the strategies of the field divisions in the police station and try to see that the strategies police have put in place is as per the planed programmatic strategies. Need for additional plans and strategies are also looked into.

The police head quarter has been monitoring, evaluating and facilitating the division heads. All the divisions of the police are connected together. It is not an individual function, but one with a proper process, which has helped the field division, according to the deputy chief of police. 

“This is how the police head quarter works with the field division in the country and has been sorting out the crimes in the country which is the reason that the police detects the crime everyday and reason for more success story,” Colonel Passang had said.

Similarly, an official from crime division in the police head quarter said that either way there are two circumstances. If the crime rate increases, it means the police are not working or the police have been enforcing the law or that detection of cases are very high in the country.

The police official said that due to advancement in technology, many crimes in the country have been detected from CCTV footages, traces that has been kept in the mobile phones, social media, amongst others.

Meanwhile, the number of criminal incidents reported to Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) between 2018 and 2022 over the years saw a gradual increase. The crime includes drug crime, crime against persons, and crime against property, amongst others.  

As of 2022, 46 criminal incidents out of 10,000 populations occurred and the crime rate increased in 2022 from 2021 by 24.32%. From 2020, there was increase in 12.19% in the number of criminal incidents in 2022.

The highest crime committed was battery with 78% followed by assault at 6%. Crime against person in 2021 and 2022 was 984 and 996 respectively. The crime against person increased by 1.02% in 2022 compared to the previous year.

Property crimes against a person was about 20.56% of all criminal activity. Subordinately, larceny accounted for 39% of overall property crime followed by burglary with 32%. Property crime in 2021 and 2022 was 723 and 785 respectively.

Similarly, an incident that is not criminal in nature is referred to as a non-criminal incident. Non- criminal incidents reported to the RBP includes natural death, unnatural death, attempted suicide, unintentional injury, and missing persons.

In 2022 there were 388 non-criminal incidents recorded. Un-natural death and missing of persons was the commonly reported non-criminal incidents in 2022 with 190 people dying and 155 people reported missing respectively. Within 190 un-natural death, 112 committed suicide. 49% people died unnaturally and 40% people went missing out of the total non-criminal incidents.

For instance, the number of person arrested in 2022 were 4327 out of which 426 were females and 3901 males. In 2022, offence of substance abuse was the most prevalent reasons for arrest of which from the 4327 people arrested, 1142 were charged with offence of substance abuse, followed by 1038 people charged with battery.

Meanwhile, compared to the previous year, in 2022, persons arrested on battery had decreased by 9 persons but the offence of substance abuse had increased by 669 persons. Overall persons arrested were also increased by 20.64% from 2021 which constituted increase in the person arrested by 740 persons. The arrest rate was 57 % which infers that for every 10,000 persons, 57 persons were arrested.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu