Friday, December 12, 2014

Imtrat and the Dzong of Haa. Let's Face !

Recently the NC member from Haa Dasho Tshering Dorji raised the issue of Haa Dzong in the National Council. For countless times from those National Assembly times of another era and even during the reign of the illustrious Father of modern Bhutan, Haa Dzong was an issue raised by people of Haa and the Nation remained silent.

It is not just the Dzong but more significant is the area which comprise the heart of Haa Valley. Almost all Dzongs in Bhutan are built on sides of hills or on top of ridges and knolls but Haa Dzong is different. The old Dzong was smaller and it was built in the village of DungChhong. The new Dzong popularly known as DungChhong Dzong "Sarpu" ( Sarp means new.)  was built by the people of Haa during the time of the 2ndKing. It was initiated by Deb Zimpon Sonam Tobgay the father of late Prime Minister of Bhutan hon'ble Jigme Palden Dorji. It is located in  the front stage of the two auspicious hills of Chenrezi and Chhana Dorji. As you drive down to Haa Valley from Chilila Pass and get a bird eye view of the Dzong  area , you will understand what I mean. The Dzong was built for the purpose of Administration and designed to be the central hub of Haa Valley. It was not for the traditional role of Defence. It was for growth and prosperity.

The other name Wangchuck Lo Dzong that MP Tshering Dorji has cited means Wangchuck Training Dzong. Wangchuck is the Surname of of our Kings and Lo is Lobjong. It was named by late Prime Minister as a Military Training Academy to be managed  by IMTRAT for the interim period until RBA could take over. The Royal Bhutan Army since long time back acquired the skill and know how but instead of taking over the established Academy, a new Training Centre was built at Tencholing under Wangdue Dzongkhag.

It seems that at one time of Bhutanese modern history since 1907, the  administration of Haa Valley along with Southern Bhutan was left to successive Heads of Dorji Family. But some incidents seemed to suggest that not everything was within the family administrative domain. For example my great grand Aunty was adored by my Grandfather for fighting a legal battle in Paro Court under Paro Penlop jurisdiction, for seven years on behalf of the family. The process of arduous court case took heavy toll on the health of the family in terms of wealth and happiness but the incredible lady finally succeeded where men dreaded to venture. My mother always maintained that I was the gift that her father wished her on his death bed. My Grand Father had told my mother that," No daughter or offspring has been called upon to perform  twice over the duty to a parent  At this late stage of life all I can do for you is pray that you too receive a gift as precious as you have been to me." It seems that my Grand Father had a way with words to express his inner thoughts. I think the late Prime Minister too would not have forgotten the phrase the elderly man my Grand Father used to preserve the family right to grazing land. A man of frail health and incredible social and moral strength. I wish I was born in his time just for a glimpse of him.

In 1970 or early 1971 any way it was When His Majesty the King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck came to Haa for the inauguration of Haa to Chhuzom motor road. In his Public Address to the people of Haa His Majesty the King confirmed that the Dzong and the area surrounding the Dzong belonged to Haa and the Bhutanese Nation. It was not sold nor leased to the Indian Military Training Team ( IMTRAT ). The late Prime Minister Jigme Palden Dorji  on the exigency of the situation those days had used the Dzong to house IMTRAT which  came to provide military training to the Bhutanese Army. It was an act of interim measure to solve  pressing accommodation need. It is very possible that IMTRAT Institution would have a record of the Public Address given by the King at the ground in front of the DungChhong Dzong Sarpu.

In fact everything that followed since the Dzong takeover by IMTRAT suggest the temporary nature of their residency in Haa. The single storey Officers residences were also built by people of Haa under compulsory labour contributions by every household. I remember accompanying my elder sister early in the morning to help  with her daily quota of stone collection for the retaining wall. That time the woola dungnye ( labour clerk ) was the father of Madam Pem Sherab the one time Principal of Motithang  High School. He carried out the roll call and paid the wages. My boyhood picture of him resembles that of Dasho Karma Ura. No relation I suppose.

The Royal Bhutan Army was supposed to takeover the Training task from IMTRAT and land for proper establishment of RBA Cantonment in Haa was also contributed. But over the years so many unforseen internal events beginning with the assassination of the Prime Minister took place that diverted the attention of the King and meanwhile IMTRAT stayed on. IMTRAT was not supposed to make any permanent structures in Haa. The cattle of the surrounding villages grazed freely in the Dzong areas. Now IMTRAT has started wire mesh fencing and blocking all access. IMTRAT has also started constructing permanent RCC buildings. I do not know what has transpired between the Leaders of the Bhutan and India in the last several years.

Haa people including its NC member seems to be missing the larger picture and zeroing on to a miniscule goal the recovery of the Dzong structure itself.  IMTRAT does not need the Dzong Structure. Already the Utse the central Citadel is administered by Haa Dratsang. But IMTRAT would be most reluctant to surrender the Areas surrounding the Dzong that they had silently usurped over more than half a century. That's almost 50% of the reign of Wangchuck dynasty. You can call it the Indian Dynasty. Haa Dzong occupation by IMTRAT is just not a heart sore of only Haa people. It can turn to be a time bound cancer to sovereignty. And I am not an alarmist. A lot that I had pointed out has turned to reality.

For this weekend I think we have adequate fodder to feed on and reflect upon. So I choose to conclude here.


  1. "That's almost 50% of the reign of Wangchuck dynasty. You can call it the Indian Dynasty", What do you mean by this sentence, sir?

  2. Sir, you are one great living history book.
    I am seated next to my computer to write on this same topic but I wanted to confirm some facts and therefore checked your blog to see if you have written about it, and here it is, the treasure trove of history.
    I thank Honorable Tshering Dorji for speaking about the Dzong in the Parliament.