14 June, 2020

MY FIRST PATROLLING DUTY


 “Now, you know your duty, area and route, right?” said the Officer. “Yes, Sir,” we replied instantly. “Any doubt?” he continued. “No, Sir,” we tried to respond like soldiers.

It was on a cold December night at Changlingmithang Parking in Thimphu, and the Officer had just finished briefing Desuups. We were there for night patrolling. Our duty was to carryout foot patrolling within the city to look out for suspicious activities on the eve of 108th National Day celebrations. The instruction was clear and we took charge of our respective areas. By then, it was already late in the night.

The odd hours and the cold did not deter people from coming out on the streets. Some were there for purposeful errands, but others I guess, were simply loitering. On duty, we kept an eye on all of them. Having not experienced patrolling before, I was unaware that getting lost momentarily in my own little world would keep me from being fully aware of the bigger world around me, particularly in such night setting.

We came across a group of boys who were fighting on Norzin Lam. Soon a few policemen arrived at the scene and took them into custody. As a father of two growing-up sons, it bothered me seeing the youth engaging in such street fights, but my duty that night was to be vigilant and to keep and eye for unusual activities. So, I focused on the task at hand. As we moved along the street, we heard a voice in the dark, “De-suup Tramaship!”. Despite the seriousness of our duty and the circumstances, we instantly sensed from the tone of the voice that it was someone who, either under the cover of darkness or under the influence of alcohol, wanted to have some fun. We did not see a threat and moved further along the street.

Next, a woman driving a posh SUV who, probably knowing that we were on patrol, stopped near us and said that there was a suspicious object lying in the middle of the crossroad at Chubachhu. This alerted us and we rushed to the spot. Only then did we suspect that perhaps we had been fooled. But there was no reason for us not to believe her, especially when we were on high alert with the very important event happening the next morning.

As we patrolled further, we spotted a figure below the road next to the stream at Chubachhu. Cautiously, we approached it for a closer look. It was a well-dressed woman, curled up like a sleeping dog, with her feet in the water. Together, we pulled her out and took her to a safer spot. At first glance, we suspected she was drunk and had fallen into the stream. But she was not. Desuup Dechen Wangmo Dukpa and Desuup Pema Dechen changed her clothes, while three of us(Men) stood looking in the opposite direction. Desuup Dechen Wangmo Dukpa gave the coat she was wearing to that woman and stood herself shivering in the cold till her driver came with another. I silently appreciated Desuup Dechen Wangmo for being compassionate and generous to some one who was in need. 

All of us were curious and wanted to question her. We waited but she was unable to speak. Finally, when she was strong enough, she refused to speak. Although we probably saved her from hypothermia, we could not helped her further as she refused to open her mouth. So, we took the next best option; we handed her to the Women and Child Protection Wing under the Royal Bhutan Police.

By then it was quite late in the night and almost time for us to report back to base. Although there were no other serious incidents, it was an eventful night with the voice teasing us in the dark, being fooled by decent looking lady and rescuing a mysterious woman from the icy water.

                                                                                                                  (Picture courtesy: Official Photographer, Desuung)

Today after more than four years, I am happy to be back and doing a foot patrolling in one of the Community Centers in Thimphu. It is a fulfilling experience to volunteer and serve our community during the current pandemic time

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