More than just bark
Stray dogs are not just nuisance to the tourists and are bothering locals but causing a significant dent in the government’s coffer. The JDWNR Hospital has treated more than 700 people, amounting to Nu 500,000, for dog bites from Thimphu, this year alone.
The number of strays in the country was expected to go down after a mass sterilisation.
The national survey conducted in 2015 says an average of over 70 percent sterilisation and vaccination coverage has been achieved across Bhutan.
“After castration, the number won’t drastically go down at once because we are operating not eliminating. So it will take time,” said Dr. Kinley Dorji of Thimphu Veterinary Hospital.
He said on an average, lifespan of dogs are 12 years. But some live more than 20 years, depending on the race. “So, when castrated dogs die after reaching their lifespan, then only the number will come down.”
A resident of Thimphu, Kala Tshering said mass sterilization of stray dogs may not have worked. He said they must have missed many dogs. “Even if they miss one, it will bear a litter of eight to nine puppies.”
He said they cannot go for a walk in the evening for the fear of stray dogs biting them. “It is worst at night. They gang up and fight causing us to lose sleep. They even get inside our house.”
Is our law criminalising youth?
Kuenga Tashi, Phuentshogling
Many youth say the amended Narcotic Drugs, Psychotic Substance and Substance Abuse Act, instead of helping, is criminalising them.
Of the 119 drug related cases recorded last year in Phuentshogling, majority were of 18-25 years.
A youth in Phuentshogling, Subash said his classmate, who was a topper and suffered from drug-addiction, got terminated from school.
“Instead of rehabilitating, he was put into jail and treated him as criminal. Now, I see him loitering in the town asking money for drugs.” Subash said whenever he sees him, he wonders how he could have helped and how the society could have helped him.
Possessing seven grams of cannabis/hashish can imprison a person for one to three years for illegal possession while two grams of cocaine can attract a minimum sentence of five to nine years.
Instead of criminalising a youth suffering from addiction, another youth in Phuentshogling, Kinley said a society should make use to technology to help them
One of the Drangpons said although the punishment is severe it has not deterred youth from indulging in illicit abuse or trafficking drugs.
He also said as a public officer working for the court of law, they only interpret and convict those involved as per the law.
On the other hand, Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority’s Director General, Phuntsho Wangdi said Bhutanese law is not stringent as compared to other countries.
“Ours’ is more on the lenient side. Nevertheless, if we don’t have a strong law, there is a risk of the country being flooded with people carrying out drug business and a number of people getting into drug addiction.”
But, he said people who suffer from addiction are not criminalised.
“I wouldn’t say our prisons are flooded with youth who are into drugs. In fact, youth who are into addiction are all given the opportunity to treat themselves. They are detained but they are not imprisoned. Even the court gives them the opportunity to treat.”
He said if they undergo treatment successfully, they are not criminalised. “The ones who are caught and imprisoned would be the ones charged and convicted for drug related trafficking cases and illicit trafficking.”
Most the 29 arrested for drug related cases in Phuentsholing this year are between 18-25 years old.
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