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Put the khegpa fear to rest

Who are the bolero-driving khegpas (headhunter) creating fear among the people of the east? The story of khegpa doing their rounds in villages emerged from Mongar. They were then spotted somewhere in Trashigang. When a group of villagers tried to get at them they got away and were last seen heading towards Trashiyangtse. Then they went into quiet hiding.

Where are these khegpas? Are the khegpas even real? What is worrying is that rumours that is being spread about headhunters is causing fear in the society. In Trashigang, for example, shops close early and the town is silent. Children do not come out because khegpas are lurking.

The belief is that whenever a major construction work begins, the khegpas are let loose because heads need to be buried under the work site to strengthen the foundation of the construction work. According to some interpretations, children are used as zung (relic) to appease the spirits and bring stability to the structures that are being built. In the late 70s and early 80s, rumours of headhunters kidnapping children to bury them alive in the dam construction of the Chukha Hydropower Project created a national scare.  They continue to do so.

In 2010, equipped with spears, swords, bows and arrows, farmers in Lhuentse went searching for unseen but much talked about headhunters. The villagers were on the lookout for two men in masks who were knocking on their doors and going around their houses carrying torches. In the same year, one self-styled khekpa in Tsirang, who had been going around declaring that he was a licensed killer, was arrested and given a six-month prison term.

Ridiculous as it is, the belief is a tradition that must be done away with. Whoever is spreading such fear among the people should be brought to the law.

Fear mongering with such unfounded stories cannot be let to happen. Authorities concerned should intervene and go after the people who are spreading the rumours and walking around as khegpas. We must put the rumour of khegpas in the eastern villages to rest.

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