l Tashi Wangmo/Thimphu
Due to its proximity to the border, Phuentsholing town is home to a series of crime. However, this is not confined to the town area only. Near the banks of river Toorsa breed one form of crime that has become a malignant cancer – rampant illegal extraction of minerals, sand and stone, by non-Bhutanese.
The latest incident occurred around 0007 hours on October 30, 2017, when officers from the Range office caught non-Bhutanese red-handed, as they were loading sand and stone into six tractors.
According to a Ranger from the Phuentsholing Range Office, this was the fifth time that the same people were caught in action around the same areas. However, the lack of stringent laws paved the way for the people to pay fines. “All we can do is impose fines,” the Range officer said.
He added that people resorted to such incidents mainly in the early hours or late at night. The Range office conducts patrolling as and when required. “Usually we move and nab the people, as we receive information from the people,” the Ranger said.
The fines imposed defers based on the cost of the materials and other factors, such as the vehicle used. If a truck is used, the quantity taken is more and so is the fine. Additionally, if those involved are repeat offenders, the fine doubles.
A resident of Phuentsholing called for “strong laws to prevent these kinds of incidents in the border areas.” “I feel that people take advantage of the law,” he said, adding that people would resort to such actions as paying fines is “nothing.” “They should be imprisoned and tried in a court of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, there are incidents when the wrong-doers escape before officials reach the site. A resident said that they often report about such incidents, only to see the perpetrators flee before officials arrive at the site.