One of the two Bhutanese trucks burnt in 2017 in Assam after a truck ran over a student. (Photo Courtesy: Tobden Yezer)

53 cases of Bhutanese vehicles having accidents in India in 2019 so far

And what happens when such an accident happens

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has registered 53 cases of Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) across the border so far in 2019. RBP received 85 such cases in 2018.

As per the record with RBP, no dead were reported while there were injuries.

RBP faces various challenges while having to deal with MVA cases across the border.

They shared that people are educated on traffic related offence but they land up committing the offences, though not with an intention.

An official from RBP Headquarter (HQ), said one of the challenges when dealing with such cases is the distance between the place of occurrence and the police station. He said, “If accidents take place in nearby places than it is not an issue. While if the place of occurrence is far then it takes time to attend the case.”

He also said that when an accident takes place under the Indian jurisdiction they have to follow the Indian rules and regulations, do the necessary investigation as per their rules and follow their procedure. “Though the formalities are same it does take time,” he added.

“Whoever may be the victim or deceased or no matter how serious the case is, they will always try to compromise,” he said, adding that the case will be compromised as per the agreement between the two parties.

He added, “In India if it becomes a court case it will be a long process and if it takes one year in our country it will take two years in India as the number of cases in line is too much. Therefore, nobody wants to go through that and compromise within.”

The official said that compromise is the best solution.

He said that to some extent there are death and accident cases and in that case they charge sheet the case to the court (same within Bhutan) and the court will take the decision.

During the course of investigation by the Indian court, the Bhutanese driver (culprit) will be under the Indian police detention, he added.

Meanwhile, he said that there are cases of Bhutanese drivers being battered and assaulted across the border after they have knocked down anyone across the border. However, they are helpless with the situation, he said.

He said, “By the time we get the report and reach the crime scene, the people who battered would be gone. So there is no way we can get hold of them. Indian police investigate to get hold of the culprits but it would be difficult to find out, unless a witness comes in front pointing out the culprits.”

“India is not a small country and it is not easy to get hold of any culprit immediately,” he added.

He said that as of now the cases of MVA across the border was not that serious. However, there are few cases where they felt that it was really dangerous driving.

Even if a Bhutanese is a victim or deceased of a MVA case across the border, the case will be dealt in the Indian court.

However, in cases with regard to the national security and Interpol related issues then they request the Indian government to extradite the Bhutanese person in the country, he added. Otherwise, the cases will be handled as per their rules and regulations.

In addition, he said that after the conviction by the Indian court, the Bhutanese culprit can be then sent to Bhutan to serve his or her term or can be kept at their prison. This however depends upon the government and the parents of the person.

Traffic rules keeps changing in India because it can be amended every three to four years, depending on the development of the country therefore Bhutanese do not know what traffic rules and regulations are in place.

The official said that it is very difficult to ascertain the traffic offences committed by Bhutanese drivers across the border.

As a preventive measure, police personnel educate people on the consequences of traffic offences which are committed outside Bhutan.

He said, “There are lots of driver training centers in the country and we educate the drivers through them.”

Moreover, he said that they conduct border coordination meeting (comprising of OC’s and SP’s) to discuss on various issues and they come up with a way forward to further address the border related issues. Dealing with a case depends upon the relationship between the two countries, he added.

He said, “Both the Indian police and GoI are always supportive. We never had any problems when we had to deal with such cases; rather they were supportive all the time. Also, they are very responsive to our requests and they do everything immediately and as fast as possible. We should keep the same ties throughout.”

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