Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case: Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials, on 25th January, brought along a few Drepong villagers as witnesses to validate their charges vis-à-vis the Gyalpoizhing case at the Mongar court.
Before the proceedings began, which lasted more than eight hours from 10am to 6:30pm, the Drangpon briefed the villagers, four of them, on the legal implication they could be subjected to, should they not be truthful and took down their statements of being denied plots at Gyalpoizhing.
Following that, the Drangpon called out the name of the first villager, Yangchen, in her 40s, who rose from the bench, while the Drangpon read out her statement at the court in presence of the National Assembly Speaker Jigme Tshultim and a packed courtroom comprising officials, observers and many villagers.
After the statement the proceedings continued in sharchopkha, where Speaker Jigme Tshultim asked Yangchen if she really did not get land at Gyalpoizhing.
Yangchen replied “no”.
It was a session of cross-examination and the Speaker then asked her which Dzongda it was then that she was talking about, if she had applied for a plot, whether she lost her land to the project and whom she had approached for a plot at Gyalpoizhing.
In a gentle tone, Yangchen replied in sharchopkha: “Draksho sho Tshultrim yaek chowa la” (the Dasho was known as Tshultim). “I had approached him for land kidu,” she said.
She also said the land she lost was her father’s, which using traditional means of measurement, measured more than an acre then, which following a resurvey, grew to about four acres.
Yangchen said she was paid Nu 30,000 as compensation for the land she lost and that she had applied for a plot at Gyalpoizhing on her father’s behalf.
“That money just finished,” she said, adding that she applied for a plot based on what a few Gewog officials had told her that villagers who lost their land would be given at least a plot.
“I applied for a plot like some other villagers, but we never got one,” she said. “When we approached the Dzongkhag officials, we were told the first allotment was done and that we’d have to wait for second round of allotment, and so far we never got any land.”
The Speaker said the Dzongkhag authority had, thrice made announcement on the radio informing people of the plot allotment process, which was to begin and calling for applicants for lucky draw.
Yangchen replied that villagers had just no time to listen to the radio and that they had to work in the fields.
“Not a single villager knew about that announcement until we realised the plots went to some rich and powerful people,” she said. “I personally approached the Dzongda’s chamber to ask for a plot, but I never got one even after five Dzongdas changed.”
The Speaker said he was sent by the government to Mongar then to serve the people and to look at their kidu and all the while some villagers had come to the Dzongda and left unhappy that they did not get any land.
“You were deserving of a land and were supposed to get, but still did not,” he said.
The Speaker then asked the then Drepong Gup Pema Tshewang how it was that he and his people were unaware of the plot allotment when he as the Gup, representative of the people, and present at the plot allotment meeting and witnessed the lucky draw process.
Pema Tshewang said he was aware of what he was told, although not in writing but verbally, that villagers losing plots above one acre would be given plots.
The Speaker said as the learned and the wise one of the village, how things would have been, had the Gup then led plot applicants from his village to the Dzongkhag authority.
Another villager, Tsundu said he had applied for a plot five times and his application was never considered.
He claimed to have lost his land for which he was given a substitute elsewhere and not from Gyalpoizhing along with Nu 7,000.
The Speaker asked the witnesses how they met with ACC.
“You all speak as though you have been taught to speak so,” he said.
The Speaker also said he would have been in Chamgang and not holding the present position today if it was corruption that he was involved in.
“I sense a political motive in this and an attempt to drag the government down,” he said adding even ACC was trying to prolong the case because they did not want him to take part in politics.
“They have yet to prove beyond reasonable doubts the charges against me,” he said. “They have to prove how I benefitted from allotting the 23 plots which has been used as an evidence against me.”
ACC officials asked the court how it was that villagers of Drepong who did not hear the announcement for plot allotment and were listed as “not reported” for lucky draw were not given land but those from Thimphu who were also absent during the draw were given land.
“At least Drepong villagers had submitted their applications,” they said. “But those from Thimphu had not even submitted applications.”
They said Works and Human Settlement Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba was allotted a plot 45 days before his application was received.
The Speaker said the country had no money those days and nobody could afford to buy land.
“Even my salary, those days, was only Nu 8,000 a month,” he said. “What money was received from the sale of plots was given to the government.”
The Speaker said he had served the country for the last 37 years and that it was like a punishment to be appearing at the court and standing on a cold cement floor.
Heaters were plugged in the courtroom, much to the contentment of all observers who otherwise were shivering in the numbing cold.
Having heard all, Mongar Drangpon said all plot allotment committee members were liable for penalty, because they signed to allot plots even when they had marked as “not reported” or “picking blank papers” during the lucky draw.
Also in this series: Gyalpoizhing Land Scam in Court
- Dechen Singye Defends Gyalpoizhing Plot Allotment
- Gyalpoizhing Land Allotment Committee Members in Mongar Court
- Minjur Dorji in Mongar Court for Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case
- ACC Rebuts Gyalpoizhing Land Allotment Committee Members
- ACC Rebuts Speaker Jigme Tshultim in Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case
- Mongar Court Full Steam with Gylapoizhing Land Scam Case
- Minjur Dorji Must Be Held Responsible
- Jigme Tshultim is Accused of Forgery, Deceptive Practices, Sale of Government Land and Illegal Registration of Government Land
- ACC: Minjur Dorji Illegally Gave Land to Kharchu Dratshang and Drametse Dratshang
- Speaker Jigme Tshultim Says Not Guilty
- Speaker Jigme Tshultim Wants TV Broadcast From The Courtroom
- Gyalpoizhing Land Beneficiaries Related to High Ranking Officials
- Minjur Dorji Wrote Minutes of the Meeting in His Own Handwriting
- PM JYT: Speaker and Home Minister Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
- Jigme Tshultim Provided With Heaters in Mongar Court
- Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case Court Verdict
- Finally A Superman – Er… A Superwoman