A video clip of agitated prisoners in Chamgang prison goes viral

A video clip of prisoners at Chamgang Central Prison in Thimphu yelling “we want justice” is going viral on facebook with more than 45,000 views as of 7:30 pm yesterday. The one minute and 49-second clip shows prisoners gathered in a fairly large hall wearing hats and much their faces covered with masks protesting against an alleged police brutality. Three prisoners, one of them apparently a non-Bhutanese, are seen speaking in the video in Dzongkha and Hindi respectively. Speaking to The Journalist, the chief of police, Major General Chimi Dorji, said that a prison is a place where the inmates are supposed to get reformed, not conduct illegal activities. “But in some way, they are in possession of phones and drugs” he said. “It is the work of the visitors and we are also investigating the smuggling of phones and drugs.” According to the police chief, the prison officials have been seizing a lot of mobile phones and that is why the prisoners were “agitated and unhappy”. “With continuous seizure of phones, they are just trying to revolt against the authority.” “Actually, there are only a few disgruntled ones and they are influencing others, the mastermind behind the protest,” he added. “They are protesting because they don’t want us to investigate.” Regarding the prisoners’ claim that the officer-in-command (OC) at the prison is beating them up, the police chief said that a probe has been launched into the matter. “But we don’t believe (Major) Wangdi (the OC) has been doing these things.” The three inmates speaking in the video are claiming that the prisoners, both young and old, are being beaten up “like cows” by the new OC by "luring" them outside their hostels. “We were told Major Wangdi will reform us but he has been ruining us,” says one prisoner. “We are treated unfairly..., please come to our rescue.” The Journalist has learned that the leaders and perpetrators of the protest are the ones caught with drugs and phones. In 2019, the police investigated into the drug bust of more than 1,000 capsules of spasmo proxyvon plus (SP+) from Chamgang central jail. As of July 2017, Chamgang prison had 363 inmates, including 20 non-Bhutanese, of which more than half were imprisoned for drug related offences. Police records then showed that 178 of the total were jailed for drug related offences. More than 6o percent of the convicts involved in drug related cases were from Thimphu Dzongkhag.