It’s the sheer numbers that fuel the rise of a culture. And Bhutan has it huge in the youth of the nation.
According to statistics with the National Statistics Bureau, The youth population in the age group 15-24 is expected to increase from 145,810 persons to 161,280 in 2030, and population in the school-going age of 5-14 years is expected to decline from 147,406 persons in 2005 to 140,037 persons in 2030.
Unfortunately the most-trending in culture, among Bhutanese youth have been the violence among gangs and gang members. Highly visible on the streets of the capital, these so called gangs were personally addressed and disbanded by the country’s chief of police himself in 2010.
Now these gangs are rumored to assemble in secret meeting places to discuss the order of their gang businesses, which is easily inclusive of heading for a fight with another gang or beat up an individual who might have crossed the gang.
The police records reflect incidences of gang fights under crime but do not record the reasons for all the gang fights. However Thimphu police said there are various reasons behind gang fights like drugs, ego, media influence and even for girlfriends and so on.
After the disbandment former gang members are now involved in more productive avenues.
An officer in the crime unit said that some of the members with Police Youth Partnership program (PYPP) who were once part of gangs have really changed a lot and “some of them are even employed”.
Some of the youth in the capital who either started a gang or were part of a gang shared their thoughts with The Bhutanese.
Yangdon a class X drop-out from Lungtenzampa School was the leader of Thimphu United gang.
“Once I was walking alone in the town, some group came and dominated me which I could not tolerate and it hurt my ego. ‘Revenge’ was on mind.”
“So I formed a gang,” she said…“Of people who had similar experiences and agreed to my views.” Since then, she was involved in a few gang fights. “I fought mainly because of ego” said Yangdon.
“Now I find it to be a ‘wrong thing’ to form gangs and get involved in gang fights,” she said.
Kencho who is also a member of ‘Thimphu United’ lost two years of her precious time just hanging around with the gang, which included 30 others friends.
She said she became a part of the group thinking that a single person cannot fight back when charged by a group. Currently she is continuing her studies in one of the private schools in Thimphu.
Kencho said after having worked with the police in the PYPP, she realized what she had done in the past was completely wrong.
“Since my ambition is to become a Police Officer I thought it is not complementary to my dream job. But now I can make my dream come true,” she said.
Hormones are a raging while young and for the overzealous minds, hanging out in groups eventually leads to putting a ‘cool’ tag on the group, which then becomes a gang. Some of the youth are of the opinion that because a group likes to show-off, the other group wants to do a better number than theirs.
“This kind of reasons also lead to fights, and if they happen to be in groups it naturally becomes a group or gang fight,” said Tashi, 21 who owns a small fast food restaurant and, a carrom board.
Kencho Chophel known as Kane, the leader of the Mass Beating Boys, abbreviated as MB Boys, one of the most notorious gangs of Thimphu is presently a reformed man and leads a normal life after the police chief’s disbandment and pledge-signing program.
He formed MB Boys when a he was bullied by a groups of boys for several times. The gang formed in the year 2006 reached a sizeable group of around 300 to 400 gang members.
“I was caught many times by the police, not for indulging in drugs but for fights only,” said Kencho Chophel who now believes strongly that it’s a wrong thing to form a gang.
He said since younger ones have a habit of imitating older ones, they should imitate the good things rather than the bad things.