The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bhutan's Government Officers Ursurp People's Land, Torture the Owner


1. My Father Mr. Devi Charan Acharja was forced to live Bhutan in June 1992.
2. In 1986 I separated from the joint family and staying with my nine family members. While appropriating the land among five brothers, I got the share of land measuring 10.31 acres under the old thram (land registration number) no.114 and the new 158.However, mean while the Home ministry had suspended the land registration and transfer or transaction of any land deal. While allotting the said land, I was also given the responsibility of education and marriage of four younger brothers and five sisters.
3. I also cleared the loan of Rs.31, 514.00 taken by my father from Bhutan Development Finance Corporation (BDFC) mortgaging the same land in 1994 for fishery development.
4. Since my father and other family members were evicted, I was mending the land until the then Dzongda of Sarbang district Dr.Sonam Tenzing on April 21, 1998 verbally to my shock told me that the land does not belong to me.
5. I could not approach the king immediately for consideration of my case due to financial constraint. I could do only in October 1998.
6. The king had ordered the Royal chamberlain (Zimpon) Dorji Gyeltshen to forward the case to the home ministry for verification .After that there was no any intimation to me pertain the case.
7. I approached the High court in 1999 for redress of my case as I did not get anything from the King. As there was no any response or action even from the High court, again I appealed to the high court in 2002 requesting to review my case .In 2003,the High court forwarded the case to Home Ministry to look into the matter. When I approached the Home ministry and met the then home minister Tinley Gyamtso, he told me that it is the duty of the court to ascertain whether you get the land or not. I was regularly paying land tax and other government liabilities.
8. To my surprise and in my absence, Mr. Nima Khandu came and claimed that the land had been allotted to him by the government under resettlement scheme along with the building. My children defied and sent him away when he came with some monks to lay the foundation.
9. I also appealed to the then Agriculture minister Sangay Nedup on 1-1-2004 and november2004 for transfer of registration of land to my name from my father.
10. On 6 April 2004, Dzongda Sonam Dawa, Dungpa and Gup (block head) Karma and Tshogpa in my absence came to my house and told my children to vacate the land and the house. When my children started crying, the Dzongda pointed the area leaving the house for demarcation. On 7th April 2004, Dzongkhag land surveyor Mr. I.K. Suncheuri, resettlement coordinator district livestock officer, Gup and Tshokpa came in my absence and demarcated the area along with 1.5 acres of betel nut orchard and paddy field totaling 5 acres.

11. When Nima Khandu came and started building house, my son Durga Prasad Acharja rejected and dismantled the poles.
12. On 8th may 2004 my son Durga Prasad Acharja was arrested and taken to Lodrai jail, Galephu and the court in Galephu sentenced him to one year jail on charges of violating section Na 1-4 of Thrimzhung Chenpo (supreme law).

13. Unsatisfied with the unfair decision of the Galephu court, I appealed to the Sarbhang district court for fair judgment and justice. However, the district court too did not give any decision of its own and justified the decision of the Galephu court.
14. On 21-9-2004, the Dzongda Sonam Dawa issued a last warning letter to me written in Dzongkha which I cannot read except the English word “Last Warning” written in bracket.
15. On 2-2-2005 again appealed the Agriculture minister on his visit to our block Chujegang (Danabari) to look into my case and on the spot decision. The minister then and there ordered the surveyor general Mr.Sithar Namgyel who was also with the minister’s entourage to look into the case and resolve the problem. After hearing my story and the facts by the Surveyor general, he told the two judges of sub-division Galephu and the Sarbhang district to transfer the land registration in my name as I posses the agreement from my father.
16. On 8-2-2005 the Surveyor General has written to the judge, Galephu to transfer the land registration in my name. It is more than 5 years, the court has not done anything to transfer the land and has not respected the Surveyor General’s letter too asking to transfer the land in my name.
17. In 2005 the Sarbhang court also justified the verdict of Galephu court of imprisonment of my son.
18. Since I felt injustice and unfair verdict of my son, I appealed to the high court Thimpu in 2005.
19. The High court judge Karma Sherpa also game the verdict that since the land has not been transferred within one year of the agreement, the land thus belongs to the government and the imprisonment of son is right (bench no.3). Further I was sent to the Royal Bhutan Police Central box, Thimpu and kept there for one month and 25 days without any question.
20. Not satisfied with the verdict of bench 3, I appealed to the full bench consisting of judges Passang Topgay, Thinglay weizer, K.B.Ghaley, Sithar Namgyal, Jigme Zangpo and Tshering Wangchuk. The judges instead of giving fair judgment, they alleged me of stealing betel nuts grown in my own land and fined me Rs. 27000.00 saying that the land belonged to the government and allotted to Nima Khandu. Further I was asked to pay fine of Rs 20000 for dry land Rs 35000.oo for wet land per acre totaling Rs 1,57,00.00 and also additional Rs9862 as compensation to Nima Khandu and asked to vacate the land. The decision was passed on 5-7-2006 vide case no.1583.
21. On 19-7-2006 not satisfied with the decision of the High court, again I approached the King. The king ordered the Royal chamberlain office to issue a letter to the Home minister to look into the matter and resolve it. The king also ordered that in case of complication and unable to solve the problem, the matter should be forwarded to Gyelpoi Zimpon’s office.
22. In 2007 the high court summoned and asked me to produce the decision paper. Along with the decision paper, I showed the letter issued by the Gyelpoi Zimpon’s office. Again I went to the Zimpon’s office to inquire the progress. I was told that nothing has come to the office from home ministry. I went to the home ministry and on inquiry, I was told that my letter was forwarded to local government section. At last the letter was found lying in the office without any action. The local government office told me that they would dispatch the letter to the Dzongkhag office. On 1-10-2007 the home ministry had sent the detail report of the plot no.SSD-03 to the Zimpon’s office.
a. On May 18, 2009, I appealed to the prime minister, Thimpu stating that nothing has happened in regard to transfer of my land registration from my father. The case was put up in the cabinet. The cabinet has written to the department of the land record to look into the case. The land record had written to the Dzongkhag citing all the correspondence regarding the said land but there was no any response to the query from the Land record. The office had inquired whether there is new land (Sathram no.158, previous 114).The new thram was also issued in my father’s name Devi Charan Acharja. This is so because he had not taken a pie as compensation.
23. On June 2010 I appealed the 5th king through the Gyelpoi Zimpon office, Thimpu. The Zimpon office; Thimpu had forwarded the appeal to the Zimpon welfare office, Bumthang as Sarbhang Dzongkhag falls under the jurisdiction of welfare office, Bumthang.
24. In 2010 legal officer from the sarbang Dzongkhag investigated and reported to the Gyelpoi Zimpon legal officer Wang Gyeltshen. Mr. Wang Gyeltshen submitted the report to Gyelpoi Zimpon and the Gyelpoi Zimpon according to the order of the King instructed the high Court to respect the verdict of case no.1583 dated 5-7-2006.
25. On 2-12-2010, according to the instruction from Dzongkhag, the Gup of Chujegang Sangay Tshering issued order asking me not to touch anything in the land, either sow or reap any crop.
26. The high court has sent a letter on 31-1-2011 to Dungkhag court Galephu Instructing to respect the old decision of 2006.

27. On 22-2-2011, I plucked 98 sacks of betel nut grown in my land. While plucking the nuts the Gup came to my house and went. Later on sent the Tshogpa to call me to his office with the laborers numbering 10. He handed me a letter written in Dzongkha and asked me immediately to go to Galephu to meet the Dungpa. When I came to Dungkhag to meet the Dungpa who was away and had to stay overnight in Galephu. The laborers packed the betel nuts in 98 sacks and loaded on the truck number BP-2-1326 and were bringing to Galephu, while on the way to Galephu, the truck with the load was intercepted by the Royal Bhutan Police and taken into custody and is kept in the police centre, Galephu.
Mr. Motikhar Acharja is arrested by the royal Bhutan Police, Galephu on 26th February 2011 and is kept in the Galephu jail without any question. The Human Rights organization of Bhutan (HUROB) has appealed to all the concern for Urgent Action on 26th February 2011 and requested to write to the Prime Minister of Bhutan for justice and immediate release of Mr. Acharja. HUROB firmly believes that the respective concern Human Rights Organizations and Diplomatic missions have taken appropriate steps to pressurize the Royal government of Bhutan (RGOB) and hopeful that Mr. Acharja gets justice and be released who is till date kept in the jail, Galephu.
The above statement was taken by HUROB staff on 24th February 2011from Mr. Acharja. He has availed more than 70 letters of correspondence and courts decisions for ready reference. Mr. Acharja statement and his untiring saga of fight for justice and right is one testimony to fathom by all conscientious human being that how much injustice being meted out to southern Bhutanese of Nepali speaking by the Bhutanese regime starting from the King, the supreme authority to the lowest Block head. Even the Court that talk of fair justice without favour and fear is biased when concerning the southern Bhutanese. One should also comprehend that people like Acharja who dares to challenge the government is not reaching any where to get justice that how many innocent Bhutanese especially the Nepali speaking are being suppressed, oppressed and denied justice. Again HUROB requests everyone who receives this statement to promptly take action. Your small gesture is doing to make big difference in the life of Mr. Acharja and thousands of southern Bhutanese who are silently suffering. The HUROB also request the core countries for Bhutanese refugees which are resettling the Bhutanese refugees to form a committee to independently study the unabated suppression of the southern Bhutanese, question of nationality and citizenship of about 80000 relatives of refugees still living in Bhutan and denial of justice.
Thank you for your kind and continuous support and solidarity.

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