Citing several high profile arrests of East Indians citizens, Hindu leader Satnarayan Maharaj yesterday claimed that a certain group of people are being targeted by the authorities.
In his address at the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’s (SDMS) 19th annual Indian Arrival Day celebrations at Parvati Girls’ Hindu College in Debe yesterday, Maharaj said he has been warned that he too will join that list.
“I wish to draw your attention to a number of high profile arrests of people in Trinidad and Tobago and I want you to watch the pattern of the high profile arrests,” he said.
The SDMS Secretary General named former prime minister Basdeo Panday, former attorney general and senior counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, former speaker of the house Occah Seepaul, former chief justice Satnarine Sharma, former attorney general and senior counsel Anand Ramlogan, former senator attorney Gerald Ramdeen among those who had been arrested.
“And I Sat Maharaj have been warned that I will soon join the above band of honourable citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Declaring that the voices of the dissent will continue to be raised because of love for this country, Maharaj added: “You see the pattern in the arrests? Have you noticed the pattern in the arrests? Don’t let me speak it out. One group of people, only one group of people.”
He added that it was “safe” to change the name of the country to Tobago and Trinidad “because all resources are being pumped into one little place there and when I point that out I have committed sedition.”
Maharaj then used the occasion to send a message to his detractors that T&T “doesn’t belong to any single group of people, it belongs to you and I and all of us and more importantly it belongs to the children, the next generation.”
At the start of his address, Maharaj played a recording of former THA Assemblyman Dr Hilton Sandy making his controversial Calcutta ship speech during a THA campaign meeting.
He said: “That was a speech made in Tobago about four years ago. It was made in the presence of Dr Keith Christopher Rowley where the audience was calling to ban half the population of Trinidad and Tobago from going to Tobago.
“The Calcutta ship is decoded language to stop the Indians from coming from Tobago. If I had said stop the Africans from coming to Caroni they would have charged me for sedition again. That is seditious, telling half the population in Trinidad don’t come to Tobago.”
Maharaj, 88, warned that T&T was becoming a despotic state.
“My dear devotees any country that stifles dissent will degenerate into a state where the law is lost, a despotic state,” he said.
Urging citizens to speak out against injustice, he added: “You disagree, say no. That is the hallmark of a true democracy where you can say no without the police—nine police—coming into your place without a warrant. Then we have a democracy.”
Maharaj claimed that in 1956 when Dr Eric Williams was prime minister two henchmen had raped the Treasury of $4 million.
“Nobody is complaining about these people who rape the state but when I voice dissent nine police officers raid the radio station and they have instructions to charge me for sedition. Well let the sedition come because I owe it to my children and my grandchildren that we leave to them a striving democracy called Trinidad and Tobago where you can speak out and where you can disagree and yet we move forward,” he said
Earlier, in his speech, Maharaj recalled that in 1952 when the first six Hindu schools were opened they were described by Dr Williams as cowsheds. He said the SDMS has since transformed those cowsheds into learning institutions.
- Sascha Wilson. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath