The speculation of headhunters or Khegpas abducting people for their heads is just a rumor as stated by competent authorities.
Following the widespread rumors and the panic it caused among many people across Bhutan, the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs (MoHCA) affirmed that any individual spreading such false alarm including the recent rumor on headhunters will be apprehended. The ministry said this is being done in order to avoid any similar incident in the future.
The home ministry confirmed that the tale of headhunters, killing people for their skulls to be placed on the foundation of construction, like hydro power projects and bridges, so foundations remain strong, is just a myth.
It is believed such stories about Khegpas might have been told to children in order to scare them from roaming during night time.
Concerning the recent rumor, the person spreading the false rumor has been detained and the case is under investigation. The suspect shall be charged for false alarm as per the Section 488 and defamation under Section 317 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.
Section 488 of the Penal Code of Bhutan states, “The defendant shall be guilty of the offence of false alarm, if the defendant circulates a report or warning of an impending bombing or other catastrophe knowing that the report or warning is false or baseless and that is likely to cause inconvenience or alarm.” “The offence or false alarm shall be a petty misdemeanor.”
Meantime, in the various dzongkhags, the local government officials and police are reassuring and convincing the people that the rumor is not true. Dagana Dzongda, Phintso Choden, said that a few days ago an incident of panic among villagers from one of the gewogs was reported to the dzongkhag. She said the fear was triggered after a few strangers visited the gewog.
While she said that the existence of headhunters may not be true, the possibility of threat to the properties like, chorten vandalism and other offense can be never known. However, she said, “The people are made aware about the rumor and consequences of spreading such false alarm.”
The rumor is believed to have originated from the east of Bhutan. Mongar, Trashiyangtse and Trashigang have had no incident of panic among the people, especially after village leaders and the police dispelled the rumors.
People in Samtse and Sarpang have also been made aware of the rumor. Sarpang Dzongda, Karma Galey, said that one cannot be so naïve to believe such information without cross checking it first. He said such rumors can affect the social wellbeing.