Bank of Bhutan officials in PPE kits accepting Bhutan Ngultrums on Monday. Image: Northeast Now

Traders of Darrangamela of Assam’s Baksa along the Indo-Bhutan border on Monday heaved a sigh of relief.

Reason – Bank of Bhutan accepted four crores 30 lakhs Bhutan Ngultrums from the Indian traders on day one of Unlock 1.0.

All these days, the traders could not exchange the currency because of travel restrictions to the Himalayan kingdom owing to COVID-19 lockdown.

Sources said initially Samdrup Jongkhar border authorities were reluctant to accept the notes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But a request was made to the secretary of Indo-Bhutan Friendship Association (BIFA), Norbo Wangding.

He was apprised of the matter by the organization’s Baksa convenor Dulu Mazumdar and Tamulpur legislator, Emanuel Mushahary.

Later, the notes were accepted by the Bank of Bhutan officials on Monday who were dressed in PPE kits and also disinfected the currencies following all the norms.

“Every small and medium scale traders of Darrangamela have at an average of 30 to 40 thousand Bhutan Ngultrums currencies before lockdown,” said Manish Singhania, a cloth merchant.

“There was never such hurdle,” he added.

Sahidur Rahman, an egg trader said, “Earlier we directly went to Bank of Bhutan, T Bank among other banks in Samdrup Jongkhar town of Eastern Bhutan and deposited Bhutanese notes and through RTGS cash were transferred to our Indian bank accounts.”

Pertinently, the people of Darranga Mela of Baksa district and Samdrup Jongkhar town of Samdrup Jongkhar district of Eastern Bhutan have an age-old trading relationship as they use of both Bhutan’s Ngultrum and Indian rupee while cross-border trading though its a illegal practice.

But nevertheless its widely a norm in transactions in the Indo-Bhutan border areas.

Shajid Khan

Shajid Khan is Northeast Now Correspondent in Udalguri. He can be reached at: itsshajidkhan@gmail.com