Former Gup Naku and Bhutan Telecom CEO Tshewang Gyeltshen detained in connection with land transactions

The detention of former Gup Naku, on 16th October at around 2 am and the detention of Bhutan Telecom CEO Tshewang Gyeltshen early morning on the 18th October are related to land transaction cases involving the two in Thimphu Dzongkhag.

Tshewang Gyeltshen who had recently taken over the new CEO of Bhutan Telecom was formerly the Director of the Land Registration Department in the National Land Commission.

Reliable sources confirmed that Gup Naku and the Director had some land transaction in the past between them.

It has been learnt that Gup Naku many years ago had sold one 11 decimal plot to the Director and another 11 decimal plot to a Director’s family member in Debsi Thimphu. It has also been learnt that in 2005-2006 the Director had sold around 26 decimals of land in the form of two plots to Gup Naku’s children in Babesa. ACC is looking into all transactions between them.

According to sources, the ACC is looking into all the land holdings of Gup Naku, including land that he has given to his family members. The ACC is also looking into all land holdings owned by Tshewang Gyeltshen and his family which includes land in Thimphu, Paro and also Gelephu.

The ACC apart from questioning Naku and Tshewang also questioned some of their family members and also Land Commission officials. The ACC has also taken some land records from the land record section of the NLC.

The investigation appears to have started from 2013 or before as ACC officials had checked the bank accounts of Gup Naku and his family members in early June 2013 from Druk PNB Bank. It has also been learnt that around the same time the bank account details of Tshewang Gyeltshen and his wife had been checked.


Gup Naku

Gup Naku was the Chang Gup from 1999 onwards for the period of around three years or less after which the Thromde had taken over the administration of the area.

In 2000 after complaints from a few villagers on land issues in Chang gewog, the then Home Ministry put together a committee to look into it after which the issue came up in court. The case, however, did not proceed further as it was resolved among the litigants. It has been learnt that ACC has also looked at the then issues as well.

According to reliable sources Gup Naku was summoned by the ACC on 15th October Wednesday at around 4.30 in its office. He was then questioned till around midnight and then early in the 16th morning at around 2 am he was detained based on a court order and sent directly from the ACC office to the detention center located at the police station.

The former Gup was further questioned on the 16th and 17th till his health deteriorated and the ACC had to get him admitted to the Hospital.

It has been learnt that Gup Naku aged 74 was bed ridden for around many days before the ACC summoned him on the 15th October. He had been diagnosed with Cervical Spondylosis a wear and tear problem of the spine which is known to cause chronic pain.

A medical report verified by a doctor showed that the former Gup for quite sometime suffered from chronic Kidney diseases with one kidney already failing and another on the verge of failure. He had been given medical advice not to raise his blood pressure levels as high BP could also affect his other kidney.

His other medical ailments included Gout, Hypertension, Renal calculus with Pyelonephritis and Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. He had also suffered from Stone and gall bladder issues.

It has been learnt that family members on the 15th evening itself tried to alert ACC on Naku’s fragile health condition but Naku was held in detention on the 16th morning after a night of questioning.

On the 16th though the family came with the verified medical reports but they were told that ACC officials had gone home. On the 17th the family was kept waiting until towards the evening Naku’s health had deteriorated to the extent that the ACC had to get him admitted to the hospital where Naku still is undergoing treatment. ACC got a statement from Naku this Sunday from his hospital bed.


Tshewang Gyeltshen

Tshewang Gyeltshen was detained early in the 18th morning at the detention center after being questioned by ACC officials at the ACC office.

Tshewang Gyeltshen who was recently the Director of Land Registration Department after an open competition with other candidates was selected as the Bhutan Telecom MD.

The former Director had started his career as a young graduate officer in the Census section of the then Home Ministry as a grade eight officer.

It was 1991 on the request of the then head of the then NLC Sithar Namgyel, who wanted an educated graduate stationed at the NLC that Tshewang Gyeltshen was transfered and positioned as a grade seven officer assuming the post of Assistant Director.

According to a source in the NLC the then NLC known as the Survey Department was still largely in the old mould with semi-educated or traditionally educated staff.

It has been learnt that Tshewang Gyeltshen did a bulk of the works in the Land Commission with regard to English and also cleared a huge backlog of thram cases by 1998.

From 1997 he was actively involved in the planning and implementation new Sathram compilation of a cadastral survey of 20 Dzongkhags and finished the work by 2005. He was actively involved in the digitization of Thram records.

NLC officials also says that it was Tshewang who was also actively involved in getting budget for modernizing NLC offices which in the past suffered from budget deficits, getting in new guidelines and other developments.

Tshewang built the reputation of being a hard worker in the NLC coming in early to work and leaving at late hours. Though also known to have a quick temper and sharp tongue he was also known to be technically competent. He was thoroughly familiar with all the ins and outs of the NLC including its technical aspects.

He was recognized and trusted by a succession of bosses who counted on him to look into a host of land issues and went by his reports on any land issues. He also rose up the ranks from Assistant Director to Under Secretary to Deputy Director to Chief Land Registrar to finally Director.

Tshewang played a key role in planning and implementing the National Cadastral Resurvey program from starting from 2008 and finishing by 2012 travelling extensively to 20 Dzongkhags. NLC officials admit that Tshewang played a key and leading role in building up the NLC as an institution.

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