Dramedtse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi, during the Question and Answer session in National Assembly, put up a question to the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA) on what measures are being taken by the government to ensure the safety of the travelers commuting via road through the borders. He emphasized on the risks taken by Bhutanese commuters who are traveling through the neighboring country.
He said that Bhutanese travelers are being abused, tortured, and tormented, which is posing as threats to their lives. “There is every chance that our Bhutanese may do the same, out of grudge and frustration. This is something which happens on almost daily basis, and therefore, if government can take this matter seriously and share with us the plans to prevent this from happening again,” he said.
To the question, Lyonpo Sherab Gyeltshen, Minister of MoCHA, said that people should know that almost 700 km of southern part of Bhutan is located just next to the border, whereby people can have an easy access and population wise, it goes to millions.
“From before, Bhutanese go to nearby countries through the border roads for business purpose, for pilgrimage, for vacation, health checkups and for study and vise versa. However, there are two ways a person from across the border comes into the country,” he said.
Lyonpo said that everyone knows that there are people who enter the country legally while there are many who get into the country illegally, through the porous 700 km roads border.
Nevertheless, he said, “Those doesn’t mean we are going easy on this. We are concerned and due to extensive friendship between India and Bhutan, we are in contact with people from across the border. They are equally supportive on this.”
In addition, he said that whenever there is any problem with Bhutanese commuters or truckers across the border, there are people who help them, and at times government provide all the needed support.
Bhutan always treated tourists very well, he said, adding that, however, India with a huge population, leads to numerous problems. With this regard, “We are in close contact with our counterparts. We are further building up our relations through Dzongda, Drungpa, Indo-Bhutan Association and through people-to-people relationship. Moreover, agencies and private sector from both the countries have frequent talk on that note,” Lyonpo added.
However, he said that one has to be extra careful and be cautious while traveling across the border. Once on their turf, it is important to adopt and accept the rules and regulation. One has to know and realize the reality, Lyonpo added.
In order to prevent such hostility from happening again, around 5,000 civil servants from Gelephu, Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar and Samtse were sensitized on how to be vigilant while travelling through the border, and to immediately contact the focal persons, in case of any problems.
“This alone cannot solve this issue. Due to huge population, these things may continue to happen. No matter how good our relationship is with counterparts, it depends upon individual and on how they react. One has to be cautious and be educated. From our side, we will continue to work on our plans,” he said.