Guests along with organizers of the India Republic Day celebrations at the Devi Mandir in Pickering. Among those in picture above are the Mayor of Pickering Mr. David Ryan, Mr. Khetarpal of the Indian Consulate, Mr. Danny Doobay, Guyana Consulate General, Mr. Jagdish C. Sharda of the Hindu Institute of Learning, representatives of the six participating Mandirs and officials of the Devi
India’s Republic Day observed at Devi Mandir
Theme of Hindu unity emphasized
By Anand Maharaj
Toronto — Hundreds of Hindus from across the GTA and Durham Region attended a 4-hour Republic Day festivities at the Devi Mandir in Pickering and listened to the call for Hindu unity from the various speakers. The January 25th celebration was to mark the establishment of India as a republic which officially falls on January 26th.
There was acknowledgement and affirmation that Hindus from across the world could, and should identify with India as the motherland that gave birth to the rich and ancient culture of Hindus.
Indians from Trinidad, Guyana, Mauritius, Fiji, Kenya, India, United States and Great Britain, now living in Canada, celebrated as one people, during the afternoon of song dance and theatre.
Although politicians and dignitaries were on hand as guests of honour, it was the children and youth of the community who dominated the program and expressed Hindu unity in a much livelier fashion than the many passionate official speeches.
The program was highlighted by a humourous and poignant play put on by young children, very loudly showing the audience that no matter where they were born in the world, they all shared the same way of worshipping as Hindus.
Clearly underlying the new direction of Hindu unity was the coming together, for the first time, of the leaders of six area Hindu Mandirs. Jagdish Chandra Sharada, of the Hindu Institute of Learning, also made an impassioned case to the community and attending politicians for the establishment of a Hindu School.
Also in attendance were Pickering Mayor David Ryan, Mr. Khetarpal, the Toronto representative for the Consul General of India to Canada and Guyana’s Consul General in Toronto, Mr. Danny
Police come under fire
Cries for justice over shooting deaths of civilians
By Sandra Chouthi
Special to Indo Caribbean World
Port-of-Spain - Cries for justice for the shooting deaths of two civilians at the hands of police in the last two weeks have been dominating the headlines along with reports of the continuing criminal scourge.
In the first shooting incident, Christopher Kanhai, 32, was shot by police on January 7. There were conflicting reports on exactly what took place, but eyewitness accounts are that Kanhai was part of a hunting party that had just entered the forest at Lalaha, Paria, east Trinidad, when a shot was heard and Kanhai was hit in the chest.
Early police reports said officers from the Northern Division Task Force stopped the hunting party and Kanhai, a father of six, pointed a shotgun at them and they fired in
Kanhai, who had no previous run-ins with the law, died in the police van on the way to the Arima District Hospital. Several police officers declined to give details on how Kanhai was killed
Gemma Villafana, an aunt of Kanhai's, said his family found out about her nephew's death when a police officer, who is a relative, called them.
"Justice has to be done," she said. "The police doing nonsense. Who will take care of his six children? We want the officer who take the shot to be arrested and charged just as they lock up criminals for shooting at the police."
Villafana said she doesn't expect to get justice unless Kanhai's relatives "make a big issue of this because the police will cover it up to save themselves."
No charges have yet been laid in that murder.
The second shooting involved Kevin Cato, 18, of Heritage Drive, Chin Chin Road, Cunupia, who was shot dead by a plain clothes police officer while at the Outrageous in Red fete at Pier 1, Chaguaramas, on January 24. Cato's friend Ryan Solomon was also shot in his chest. He survived.
Reports are that around 4 a.m., Cato and Solomon were partying with others when they started dancing to the song, "Hosanna" being performed by Maximus Dan. In dancing, Solomon bumped into a man wearing a red jersey and jeans. The man slapped him twice across the face and Solomon retaliated by slapping him back.
The man then whipped out a gun a fired a shot, hitting Solomon. Cato, who was a short distance away, went to his friend's assistance, but he was also shot and fell to the ground.
Constable Dave Burnett, the detective who was attached
to the Four Roads Police Station, went to the station the following day at 5 p.m. and gave a statement. He has since been charged with murder and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
At his court appearance on January 28, Burnett was shielded from media photographers by his colleagues.
Burnett, 30, of St Barb's, Belmont, was escorted to court by officers around 6 a.m. and sneaked through the basement when the matter was called and adjourned. When he appeared before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls, Burnett appeared without handcuffs.
At Cato's funeral on January 28, there were cries for justice among the hundreds of mourners. A spokesman for the family said, "Kevin was a nice child. He did not have to die like that. Even if he was wrong, the policeman could have at least spoken to him. He did not have to do that. It is unfair. It's just unfair."
A third person was also shot dead by police, but this has not created an outcry as the first two. The third shooting death took place on January 27 when police officers attached to the West End Police Station went to the home of Sterling Pompey at Mozart Street, Diego Martin, to serve an outstanding warrant for drug trafficking charges.
Reports are that Pompey fired at the police officers who returned fire hitting Pompey about the body. He was rushed to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where he died.
Responding to the shooting deaths at the hands of police, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said on January 29 that there needs to be a "more friendly interaction" between the police and the population. Manning said he planned to meet with the Commissioner of Police and the executive of the Police Service this week to discuss the issue of officers using excessive force and acting unreasonably.
"The reality of that situation is that the police find themselves in the midst of conflicting requirements, on the one hand to take appropriate steps to preserve law and order, and on the other, remove themselves from exposure to the allegations of excessive force and become friends of the population," Manning said.
The Express newspaper ran an editorial on January 30 on the issue of special favours being granted to accused PC Dave Burnett. Referring to the protection Burnett received from his fellow officers, the Editorial stated: "This is hardly the procedure when Joe Public is before the court. Actually, nobody in the media was the least bit surprised because this has become the norm whenever the accused happens to be a police officer.
"This may seem to be a minor matter, but to a public already distrustful of police behaviour, this has been a source of enduring chagrin. Moreover, the circumstances of this case inevitably have resulted in it being something of a cause celebre, with the population waiting to see whether the police will be as even-handed as they make themselves out to be and the society expects them to be."