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Harshest penalty will be levied on graffiti case: PM

Stakeholders are yet to complete their investigation

The French artist’s graffiti on holy sites and public places in the country is a serious offence for the government, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said, at the meet the press last week.

“We are going to investigate thoroughly and levy the harshest penalty that our law allows,” he said.

Home Minister Dawa Gyeltshen said the ministry is discussing with relevant stakeholders regarding the graffiti the artist left on holy sites and public places in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. He said that concerned stakeholders would take necessary actions.

Lyonpo said the guest came to Bhutan through Amankora and was in the country for about two weeks. “Only after two weeks we realised the issue and then we had to discuss among ourselves and appraise the government as well.”

The artist came under strong criticism after he posted a video clip of an installed art piece that resembled a Tibetan mandala made of tiles on a wall inside Cheri monastery, and pictures of his work in Bhutan. The artworks were later removed.

Lyonpo said the way the ministry is questioned implies that the ministry has to do everything. He said it is not possible for the home ministry to man every tourist who visits the country.

For instance, if Bhutan has 50,000 tourists every year and if the home ministry has to look after each of them visiting the dzongs and temples, then it is not possible, he added.

“We have rules in place like Tourism Rules and Regulations 2017 which includes the roles and responsibilities of tour operators and guides. It also includes what is allowed and what is not when in the country.”

Meanwhile, Tourism Council of Bhutan official said they are still investigating the case. It was learnt that a report has been compiled on how the incident happened and a committee comprising of all stakeholders are yet to meet again. Kuensel did not get a response from Amankora’s general manager.

Dechen Tshomo

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