Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Robed-in-red hoods

It comes as a shock for any Bhutanese to hear that someone robed in the Buddha’s attire participated in criminal activities or was party to assist or facilitate such acts. This naturally implanted forethought strikes many Bhutanese minds because it’s general knowledge that monks are groomed and brought up with the most stringent disciplinary codes of conduct and should supposedly possess the most virtuous of takes on everything in creation.
A fellow from the line of monastic bodies is therefore expected to be the last to make it to the list of people in conflict with the law. They are expected more so to be within the premises of their institution dedicating prayers for the welfare of sentient beings.
Conversely and not really to please the eyes and ears of any pious soul, the statistics at the Police headquarters paints a most contradictory picture where many monks have visited and revisited the not so holy premises and vicinities of the lawbreaker’s lair.
If the data with the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) in Thimphu are any indication increasing number of monks have constantly placed themselves in conflict with the law.
From 2010 till August this year, some 21 monks have been arrested and detained by RBP personnel on grounds of various crimes committed.
The monks involved were listed under crimes which ranged from possession and consumption of controlled substances, battery and burglary.
From among the 21, 11 were arrested on varying counts for possession of controlled substances, seven were arrested for battery, two for burglary and two for murder.
Some of those who feature in the list are also the ex-monks who were already expelled from the institutions for crimes committed.
A police officer said a total of nine monks were arrested in 2010 alone. These monks were arrested in connection with the possession of controlled substance and battery which normally happens during gang fights.
Such nature of crime according to the police officials are the highest ever committed by the monks.
These former monks who dropped out of their schools are from various Dratshangs (monastery) and Shedras (Buddhist schools) across the country. These ex-monks once relieved from monkhood go wayward and many remain as vagabonds who loaf around in the capital city.
The police also said that it is difficult for them to trace the figure for ex-monks who have committed crimes. This is because a serving monk becomes ‘former monk’ when they are expelled for the crime committed. Moreover, these ex-monks after they quit their monkhood claim themselves as ‘jobless’ while registering the case with the police.
However out of 21 cases recorded, the most heinous crime committed ever is the murder of a youth by a group of boys, among which one was a monk. The victim, a 26 year old was killed at Changjiji this year.
Two former monks, aged 20 and 22, were arrested after it was discovered that they were involved in the crime on May 22 this year.
Other than the crimes mentioned above, monks have also been involved in crimes such as committing con, larceny, gang fights etc.
The Dratshang Lhentshog’s Secretary, Karma Penjor, said this is due to the reflection of the society’s changing values.
“We’re equally concerned about it,” said the secretary. The Lhentshog is making concerted efforts to curb such social problems created by the monks.
The monks are properly advised and are also warned. Only when the corrective measures are exhausted, do they resort to expulsion. “The codes of conduct for the monks are strict and the disciplinary action includes expulsion,” he said.

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