Thimphu police received information from its reliable source regarding the transportation of illegal immigrants into the country. On 14 June, two taxi drivers, aged 26 and 27, from Punakha and Pemagatshel respectively, transported two Indian labourers illegally to Bhutan. The two illegal immigrants, aged 40 and 42, are from Cooch Bihar, India, police said. All four of them are under police custody for further investigation, police added.
Police said, “The two immigrants were made to get off the vehicle before reaching checkpost, Kharbandhi (Rinchending) and Chukha respectively, and they were made them to take the other route (walk through the forest) to get to the other side of the checkpost.”
Normally, a taxi charges Nu 750 per passenger from Phuentsholing to Thimphu, whereas for transporting illegal immigrants, the charge goes up to Nu 8,000 to Nu 10,000 per person. And therefore, the police said that most of the taxi drivers seem to be getting involved in such a business, as it is seen as easy money.
The two illegal immigrants will be charged for illegal immigration while the two suspects will be charged for illegal transportation of immigrants.
As per Section 440 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB) 2004, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of illegal immigration, if the defendant enters or obtains entry or stays in Bhutan by false or misleading representation or by the concealment of a material fact or without a valid immigration documents.” The offence of illegal immigration shall be a petty misdemeanor and the defendant shall be deported as per the Section 441 of PCB 2004, police said. Meanwhile, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of illegal transportation of immigrant, if the defendant aids or provides a means for the immigrants to illegally enter into Bhutan, as per Section 444 of PCB 2004.
Section 445 states that the offence of illegal transportation of immigrant shall be a felony of the fourth degree with non-compoundable sentence term of 3 to 5 years, which means the guilty has to serve the prison term.