Thimphu District Court

The story of Khandu Wangmo’s victims in the sedition case

While the Thimphu District Court has convicted Khandu Wangmo for sedition, for planting seditious documents on Pemagatshel Drangpon Yeshey Dorji, his sister who works in the BNCA, and on the Drangpon’s ex-wife’s brother’s car, however, her victims feel that she got away lightly for such a grave crime.

The sister of Drangpon Yeshey Dorji, said that Khandu Wangmo tried to frame her for sedition by getting seditious documents planted on her, in her office table using another BNCA official. She came forward to say that Khandu Wangmo had even sent a person to her house in Babesa to scout for CCTV cameras.

CCTV and Drugs

The person sent to scout for CCTV cameras is a former monk who works in the private sector. He said he was instructed by Khandu Wangmo, and he told the police as such. He said a friend of his had been looking to buy apples, and Khandu Wangmo directed him to the house saying it has apples for sale. He was told to scout around and see if the house had any CCTV cameras.

The person said, “I was not told by Khandu Wangmo that this was the Drangpon’s sister’s house, and though I was told to scout the house, I went there but did not scout the house.”

This former monk, used by Khandu Wangmo, came into touch with with her as she knew a relative of his who was a Lam Neten in one of the dzongkhags. The man had worked for the Lam Neten as a driver.

He said that Khandu Wangmo had told him that she would help him to get a visa to go abroad if he did certain works for her.

The former monk said that one of the tasks she gave him was to plant drugs in Drangpon Yeshey Dorji’s house, and then report the matter to the police. The back story that she falsely told the former monk was that Yeshey Dorji used drugs, and he had even given drugs to her children. She told the former monk that she wanted Yeshey Dorji to be caught red-handed with drugs, and he has to help in that task. The former monk declined to do the task.

The former monk had given this account in his statement to the police, which was submitted to the District Court, as part of the RBP’s findings.

The attempt to plant drugs was verified by another source who is the former lecturer of Taktse Institute of Language and Culture Studies (ILCS).

The former lecturer also said, to the police that Khandu Wangmo had tried to get him to plant drugs in the Drangpon’s car or at his home, which he refused to do.

He said he believes that if he had done that then she could have used the police chumas working under her to get a drug raid done on the Drangpon.

Seditious documents and stress

The Drangpon’s sister said that she underwent tremendous stress for herself and her family after she found the seditious documents planted in her office on the evening of 16 December 2019, which she discovered on 18 December, as 17 December was a national holiday.

Soon after she found the letters, she went around asking in her BNCA office if somebody had seen anyone planting the documents. She reported the letters to her superior and the RBP.

The sister said the incident was very ugly, and there was an air of suspicion and distrust in BNCA. She also noted a change in the attitude of some of her office colleagues who started avoiding her.

“I could not even leave my office room unlocked while going to the bathroom, fearing that something else might get planted again,” said the sister.

When she met the police, they asked her to put CCTV around her house and to be careful as the person behind this may try and plant more seditious documents or try and do something to her.

She was also informed by the police that she had been under the RBP surveillance for a while, after there was some information that her house was a meeting place for some anti-nationals, but the police said the complaints were false as they found nothing, and in fact her house was very peaceful.

At the time, she had no idea who was targeting her, and she said she feared about what would happen to her family and her two children.

An extramarital affair and a big lie

The sister said that Khandu Wangmo and her brother had an extramarital affair, but her brother was not planning to divorce his wife at the time. In fact, he was planning on travelling to Belgium where his wife was posted to join her.

She alleged that Khandu Wangmo had somehow convinced her brother that his wife’s family was involved in some grave anti-national plot, and they were under active investigation, by lying that the information came from a higher official. In reality there was no such higher official.

The wife’s parents who are Bhutanese, originally from Kurtoe, had a home in Kalimpong too, with her father and brother both being religious practitioners. She used that angle and also alleged them to be in touch with a religious master in India, and a wider group planning anti-national activities in Bhutan. This was all false.

“She had told him that some of these members had already been caught, and were being interrogated, and the only way for the Drangpon to save himself, his family and his son was to avoid meeting his wife,” the sister alleged. She further alleged that her brother was told by Khandu Wangmo to divorce his wife on the order of the fictional higher official.

She said that Khandu Wangmo not only convinced her brother, but she also had convinced her brother’s entire family including herself.

The Drangpon who was planning to travel to Belgium cancelled his trip, and instead he called her up and said he wanted to separate from her.

The sister said her brother and the family were so scared of being implicated in an anti-national plot that despite the wife trying to meet and communicate with them, after coming back to ask what had gone wrong, they did not communicate with her, especially after Khandu Wangmo allegedly also said that the phones of the wife and her family members were being tapped and they were being watched.

The sister alleged that the cruelest part of the whole thing was that Khandu Wangmo had even forbidden the Drangpon from meeting his own then 15-year-old son, again citing an order from the higher official.

Unable to bear this and starting to have doubts about Khandu Wangmo, the sister arranged a secret meeting between father and son during office hours.

“However, Khandu Wangmo found out about the meeting, and she threatened my brother that she would complain against me to the higher official for arranging the meeting. My brother messaged me, asking me to apologize to her, but I refused as I found it difficult to believe that the higher official would try and separate a father and son,” said the sister.

She said from then on Khandu Wangmo took a disliking to her, and it may be the eventual reason for the seditious documents to be planted in her BNCA office.

The sister said that after Khandu Wangmo and her brother had married, he was out of touch and cut off from the family for months.

She said that with the father and son unable to meet, and with even the Drangpon’s family avoiding the son, he left Bhutan and went to join his mother in Brussels, Belgium. Here, coincidentally a fake account impersonating a student in the son’s former school regularly chatted with the boy on Facebook, and kept asking him for information about himself and his mother.

The loan and a diary

One of the convictions against the Drangpon is larceny by deception for some business licenses, deceptively availing a loan of Nu 8 mn from RICBL on the pretext of starting businesses. The main asset put under the loan was the family land of Drangpon owned by her parents.

The Drangpon in court had claimed he got the loan after Khandu Wangmo said it was the order of the higher official.

The sister alleged that to convince the family to part with the land as collateral, Khandu Wangmo drove the Drangpon’s parents around Thimphu showing random plots of land saying these are about to come to her.

The sister said that eventually her brother realized that he had been taken on a ride, and so he planned to separate from her, and also get his money back by filing a case.

The sister claimed that just before that her brother had handed over a bamboo box to her for safekeeping. The box lid was tied by cloth, and he had asked her not to open it.

“I did not listen to him as I was worried for him, and I cut the cloth and opened the box and found his personal laptop and some other items, and a personal diary. I opened his diary and found that he had poured out his heart in six to seven pages of what he had been going through with her,” said the sister.

Recounting the content of the diary, the sister broke down saying that the diary confirmed that nothing was right from the beginning, and it recounted his mental torture and abuse by Khandu Wangmo, and the Drangpon was also contemplating on ending his own life, but the thought of his son and his parents prevented him from doing so.

“When my brother was detained by the police earlier this year, I was worried about my brother’s mental health and also his suicidal tendency, and I told this to his then lawyer,” she said. 

The sister said that after the divorce between the Drangpon and Khandu Wangmo, coincidentally regular defamatory Facebook posts by anonymous accounts started appearing on her brother.

She said that even she was not spared as one account had uploaded her picture on Bhutanese Forum calling her the ‘Sunny Leone’ of Bhutan and making all kinds of false allegations to besmirch her character.

“I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for one hour after looking at the post,” she said.

She said the posts mysteriously stopped appearing after Khandu Wangmo was detained.

Khandu Wangmo denied making any posts online to the police and in fact, she claimed she cannot use Facebook.

The sister said, “I feel that the five-year sentence given to Khandu Wangmo is not adequate for the gravity of crimes committed. If me and my family were not able to prove our innocence with the planted documents, then we could have been locked up for far longer.”

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is appealing for tougher sentencing for Khandu Wangmo.

The former monk turned witness said that in one instance Khandu Wangmo told him to go the Goonglen and tell him that he had gone for some snacks to the GREF canteen in Babesa, and that he overheard a few people talking about an ACC complaint filed against the Goonglen. He refused to do that task too, and also informed the RBP later.

The former ILCS lecturer claimed that Khandu Wangmo played purported short voice messages of the fictional high official on her phone asking her ‘if the task is done,’ or ‘is it getting done,’ etc. The former lecturer said it may have fooled others, but he realized that it was actually one of the voices of her accomplices who can do a good mimicry of the high official.

The RBP could not retrieve any of the many phones that Khandu Wangmo had when they detained her.

So far, Khandu Wangmo, who is representing herself in court, has denied all the allegations against her and she has claimed to be innocent and instead leveled counter charges.

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