Bhutan projects itself for unstable politics

Published on Apr 13 2010 // News Analysis
By I. P. Adhikari

The ‘democratic government’ of Bhutan has given hints that this country is likely to face insurgency or the political turmoil in future. The government a few years back had announced its intention to form a counter-insurgency force, has finally been materialized.

The youth sensitization, under police-youth collaboration, followed government’s announcement to form such military armed force. The force is planned to take its shape by 2011.

So far the Royal Bhutan Police had been in charge of law enforcement. In a newer development, this proposed counter-terrorist squad is likely to be given the authority. The issue was in the surface while the parliament discussed Police Bill last year.

The preparation for a counter-terrorist squad is government’s visualization of unstable future for the country. And it is certainly directed towards increased presence of communism.

According to reports, the two units – riot control unit and counter terrorist unit – of the squad will be part of the special reserve police force that will be formed once the police bill is approved by parliament.

The country takes public demonstrations as vulgar and threat to national stability. Rallying against government or any parties is virtually banned. The weak tolerance power of the government towards criticism, especially rallying and demonstrations, was explicitly expressed during a small peaceful rally last July when Thimphu residents join a procession to protests government ignorance to death of students in flood.

The liberalization will obviously invite rallies, protests and demonstrations – either violent or peaceful. Being non-tolerant to such political activities, the present leadership is sure to use the squad to ban any form of demonstrations and protests against the government.

Bhutan has been cultured with frequent strikes, demonstrations, protests and rallies in neighboring Indian states. The only thing is the Bhutanese citizenry are waiting for the liberal policy to come up. The democratic system, put into place, cannot be withdrawn. Democracy gives the people right to oppose government, if not against the state.

Initiation for institution of a special force is the pre-determined answers from the government to limit democratic rights of the people. If police chief Kipchu Namgyal if rightly quoted, “Now that we’re a democracy, we should be prepared, we can’t be taken by surprise,” by Kuensel, it is a pre-plan that authorities are preparing to limit the rights people can enjoy in open society.

Training is already in progress, the amount of investment would depend on situational developments. In that sense, the country that lies in the conflict infected zone will have larger share of its national budget on counter-terrorism pool. Indirectly, this will curtail people’s right to development.