Last Friday, I was on my way to Thimphu from Phuntsholing when suddenly the bus I was travelling in was flagged down by police at Tsimasham for a surprised highway checking. The two policemen swooped in and headed straight towards the rear section of the bus where a group of young boys were seated. One by one, they started to frisk them until two sticks of cigarettes emerged from one of the boys’ shoes. The real drama began to unfold as one of the policemen pulled out small packages of cannabis drugs from around his seat. The boy was immediately removed from the bus for further scanning and interrogation. We all watched in disbelief as he was finally taken away for detention at Tsimasham Police Station. We had to wait for more than an hour while the police completed the formalities.
As part of the outreach service program in Kabisa community conducted by Khasadrapchu Youth Center in Thimphu yesterday, the officials from Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA) interacted with over 50 youth and sensitized them on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, and the associated drug laws in Bhutan. The rising trend of drug abuse and smuggling cases in the country over the years seriously call for aggressive public awareness campaigns so that young people can stay safe from drugs. It has been found that many youth are committing drug-related crimes simply because they don’t have adequate knowledge of the legal provisions in the Narcotic Drug, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2015. So most of the time, they are found unaware of what they are doing. It has been reported that a young graduate has been recently caught in Eastern Bhutan with 90 pieces of N10 in a parcel he was carrying for his friend from another person. If he had known that carrying N10 which is a Schedule III drug more than two times the permissible quantity of ten pieces would send him to jail for 5-9 years (3rd degree felony), perhaps he would have double-checked the parcel he had received for his friend. So for the benefit of all the youth of Bhutan, I would like to share some of the most important highlights from the sensitization program held in Kabisa.
While we are definitely enjoying the fruit of rapid globalization and socio-economic growth, we are also facing numerous challenges that come hand-in-hand with modern development. As we transition from a traditional society to a fast changing modern Bhutan, social problems such as unemployment, broken families and substance abuse which hardly bothered us until decades ago are now constantly on the rise, and the government is still struggling to deal with them effectively. As a result, many people especially the youth who have been the victims of moving time are seen utterly frustrated. In the absence of means to legally earn a decent living, many people have now even started risking their lives, dignity and human values to find alternative means to survive in the society. It is no surprise that burglary, scams, deceptive practices, cheating and robbery have become so common today. You can be looted through various means at any time anywhere, and one tricky thing about those miscreants is that they can change their strategies according to time and context. The following stories are a reminder that we should be careful wherever we go.
I was invited to be part of a youth workshop which had brought together youth from different walks of life. The forum was facilitated by a lady who first took us through her PowerPoint slides about a wide range of youth problems in Bhutan. Following the presentation, she gave us an exercise in which we were supposed to outline what we expect from life and what can we do to achieve it.
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