Sat: T&T becoming a despotic state

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

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