The infamous AK-47 bullets case earlier this year has taken a new turn with the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport police informing Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry that they have closed the case.
The IGI police which had filed an FIR against school teacher Sonam Choden and put the case in a local Indian court have dropped the case as their report to the court did not find any criminal intent behind the presence of the 10 bullets in her baggage.
However, Sonam Choden is not yet out of the woods as her passport is still impounded by Bhutan’s Foreign Ministry and the RBP is also still investigating her case.
However, the RBP investigation is also stuck in a legal quagmire. A senior RBP official said that like the Indian police in IGI they could firstly not establish any criminal intent by Sonam in having the bullets in her luggage.
The next case for the RBP is to prove that Sonam Choden herself put the bullets in her bag and was aware of their presence.
However, here the RBP official said that they would need more evidence as Sonam has vociferously denied the knowledge of the bullets in her bag and has instead alleged that at some point somebody else had slipped in the bullets to implicate her. The accused had even challenged the RBP and the airport authorities to examine the CCTV footage of the airport parking where she says her baggage was kept unattended for a while. However, there is no such footage due to the absence of CCTV cameras in the area.
The official said that the difficult thing for RBP is that she is already denying having access to such bullets and the RBP would have to prove the origin of the bullets.
The RBP official said that if the case in its current form is sent to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) then it would surely be sent back asking for more evidence. The official said that more evidence is also required to satisfy the evidence required in a court otherwise even the court would not accept the case.
The airport security saw only the flat end of the bullets and assumed it to be small coins and let it through.
The Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) did not accept the two week suspension of the two security guards as being enough but asked for stricter measures after its own investigation.
The measures which were in line with BCSR involved demotion by one grade of the two security officials which is a major penalty under the BCSR.
The incident first came to light in early April 2017 when The Bhutanese did a story on the incident which had occurred around a month earlier.
The school teacher Sonam Choden who was travelling from Paro to New York was held by Indian security personnel at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi, after they found 10 AK-47 bullets in her suitcase.
She was questioned and detained at the airport and was only let go after the Bhutan Embassy in Delhi responding to a call for help from her got her released on the condition that she would come to Delhi for any court hearings.
Back in Bhutan she was questioned by the RBP at Paro and also summoned and questioned in the RBP headquarters in Thimphu. Her passport had also been seized by the Foreign Ministry.
Earlier she had been helped in carrying of her baggage by an RBP official the airport and she got excess baggage waived off by a BAFRA official triggering claims of VIP treatment.
However, on closer examination she did not have a diplomatic passport and said that the two officials were her school classmates and friends.
The woman was a divorced school teacher who wanted to travel to the USA to study and work there. She was earlier married to a Major in the Royal Body Guards but they were living separately for more than a year and had divorced in December 2016.
Sonam Choden in an earlier interview with this paper claimed that she did not know how the bullets got there as she does not even know how to use a gun. She also said that AK-47 guns or bullets are not issued to the RBG and so it could not belong to her ex-husband as well.
She had said that she is not from any prominent family as alleged by a few misinformed people on social media but that she wanted to go to USA to study and work for her seven year old son’s sake.