Mother and daughter had moved out of their original home closer to the school around a month ago after a family dispute
The eight-year-old deceased girl in the now infamous Paro case and her mother had originally been staying in Jitshiphu, Drugyel in their home with the father of the mother and his step-wife.
However, an internal dispute within the family led to the mother leaving the house of her father and taking her daughter in the process to stay with her friend at a distance away in Satsam Chorten for around a month. A source said that the dispute was probably property related but the family did not confirm the cause.
Therefore, for the past 25 days, the mother and the deceased were staying with a friend at Satsam Chorten. The 26-year-old mother said that her friend also needed helping hands while house shifting.
The move away from the original home of the mother and daughter a month ago meant that the eight-year-old had to travel farther to school and back which included a one km walk through a lonely and isolated road between the main road and her new residence.
When in Drugyel, the deceased had to only take a five-minute walk to the school as it was nearby, but during their stay at Satsam, the deceased had to walk for almost 1 km to reach the highway junction. From the junction, the students looked for lifts to school, which is 10 to 15 minutes drive to Drugyel.
The move in all probability not only meant a longer walk and less familiar surroundings, but it also exposed her to a new danger that ravaged her and took her life.
The mother, who is a divorcee, has a three-year-old son and makes her living by selling scrap in Paro.
Differing pictures of the class two girl emerges depending on whom one talks to.
Her family and friends describe her as an independent girl who was smart and talkative. They say she was bold enough to walk to school by herself and was a helping hand to her mother.
At the same time an alternative picture also appears based on the comments of some teachers who say that the girl would forget her books at times and even had to be chided for it.
A lady known to the girl had given her a lift on the fateful day till the road head. According to a source who talked to the lady the girl seemed morose in the car and did not reply to the queries of the lady.
The girl was dropped at Satsam Chorten from where she would have to walk around a kilometer to her house.
The girl usually walked to school daily by 7:30 am in the morning and she used to be home before 4:30 pm. They were staying in Paro for the last 5 years.
“My daughter was sometimes dropped by my friend to school. Otherwise, she walked to the highway to get a lift to school by herself. She was always on time, and by 4:30 pm she used to be home. However, that day, she didn’t come home, and around 6 pm, we decided to go and look for her,” the mother said
She said that her friend, and the friend’s three children and brother, accompanied her on the search, and they formed two search teams headed for two directions at the Satsam Chorten junction.
In the process, her friend’s husband also joined them and they directly drove towards Drugyel. She said, “I went and asked all her friends, but she was not with them. I called her class teacher to confirm if she had come to school and she said she was in school the whole day.”
When they could not find the eight-year-old daughter anywhere then they lodged a complaint of Missing of Police (MoP) with the Paro police, she said, adding that while they were waiting for the police when they got information from one of the teachers saying that a woman had picked up the deceased along with her child and dropped her at Satsam Chorten junction.
An immediate search towards Satsam Chorten was then started after receiving the information, however, no one saw the eight-year-old walking around the area that day.
She said, “When we were looking around, the madam who dropped my daughter came looking for us. She was accompanied by her husband who is a chef in one of the resorts in Paro. We all got into their car and went to relook around.”
After a while, the mother got a call from her friend’s husband and her brother saying they came across the bag belonging to the deceased. The mother said she fainted out of shock. And when she regained her consciousness, she rushed to the place where they found the bag.
She said tearfully, “I couldn’t go near, and while I stared from the roadside, my friend’s husband, her brother and the chef came walking towards me crying. They then said my daughter was no more and it was around 10 pm. I couldn’t believe it when they said my daughter who is innocent and who was just eight years old is lying dead in a bush.”
The body of the eight-year-old was recovered from an area that is 50 meters above Satsam Chorten, Paro on 18 September. The area has one sawmill, a few construction sites and a few resorts. However, there are houses just a few meters away from the crime scene. In addition, the area has a connecting farm road covered with forest and thick bushes all year around.
It was confirmed that the deceased was sexually assaulted and murdered.
The uncle of the mother said that his grand niece was brutalized beyond one’s imagination and there were injuries all over the body and the face of his niece was almost unrecognizable. He said that the perpetrator must have used a sharp weapon as well given the nature of some injuries.
The Bhutanese, however, will not share the harrowing details of the injuries given that they are too gruesome to print and to also not hamper any police investigation. Suffice to say that some of the experienced medical nurses who had to attend to the body wept at the sight of the girl, according to sources.
He said, “We believe that the crime was committed somewhere else, and later the body was disposed in that location. If the crime was committed in that area then someone around might have heard her cries for help as there are houses and resorts nearby.”
Moreover, she was dropped at the junction at around 2:30 pm, and we were told that the deceased died 3 to 4 hours prior to the recovery of the body around 10 pm, he added.
According to him, there is a suspect, but they decide not to reveal the identity for now since police are still investigating the case.
The husband of the mother’s friend has been detained but the police are not providing any information as the investigation is still on.
The police are expected to make an announcement only once they have all the evidences in place.
The mother of the victim said that she won’t spare the person who has brutalized and murdered her small and innocent daughter. She said, “I want justice and the severest punishment to be given to the person who did this to my daughter.”
She said that her daughter would have been saved if she had gone to pick her up from the junction. However, she said that since there is no school bus or public transportation services, parents do not know when they should go and pick their children.
“I see many children walking around in the area after school, all alone, but I never thought such a horrendous incident would take place. I wish I had been more responsible,” the mother said.
She said public transportation services in place would make it safer as all the students living in the area as they can walk home in a group together. For now, all of them walk by themselves alone as they have to come getting a lift, she added.
“The single incident of losing my daughter should serve as a wakeup call for all the parents, and this is the chance where parents can see and realize the role they can play in their children’s lives”, she said wiping off her tears.
“Moreover, parents must keep a close eye on their children, especially with daughters and talk openly with them to know if anything is happening to endanger the children so it can be prevented from happening,” she said.
“My daughter did not share any incidences of molestation or sexual abuse with me in the past. Therefore, I never thought my daughter would face such a situation,” she added.
She said that the government, resorts in Paro, the police and school management has done enough to help her beyond her expectation, and she is grateful for that.
A relative of the mother shared that it must be made mandatory to have a school bus service for the students who live far away from the school. “Having bus services would definitely help those people who are coming from poor family background. Those from rich background can have pick and drop services by themselves,” the mother said.
The people in the area, especially the parents, are now picking and dropping their children from Satsam Chorten.