Seven men from Chukha and Phuntsholing have been charged with the illegal transaction of two unlicensed firearms at the Chukha District Court. The two matchlock guns (khanduwas) had been transacted between five while two had witnessed the transactions taking place but failed to inform the police.
On 30 December 2016, the OAG charged Hastaman Rai and Kul Bahadur with illegal possession and transaction of unlicensed firearms, a possible fourth degree felony liable for up to 5 non-compoundable years in prison.
Sonam Gyeltshen, Budhiman Rai and Aman Sing Mongar were charged with illegal sale which is also a fourth degree felony. Jabchu and Durga Sing Chetri were accused of failure to report crime, a violation punishable with a fine of up to 90 days’ national wage.
The Gedu Police carried out investigations and arrests following a complaint.
There was no mention of discharge or pointing of the firearms.
Section 480 of the penal code states a person in possession of unlicensed lethal weapons on his person or in a place readily available for his/her use shall be liable to a fourth degree sentence unless used in lawful sport. Section 482 states transactions or procurements of lethal weapons without proper license to do so are also a fourth degree felony.
Matchlock guns are common in rural houses where they are passed down as heirlooms from the time of the Zhabdrung or before and are considered a sign of status.
The RBP had taken charge of the registration of firearms from the RBA a few years ago and carried out a gun registration drive in 2013.
The accused will make their submissions in the next hearing.