Headlines      Issue Released July 7, 2004

 

Magical Moments with Manna Dey: The man whom thousands of would-be singers tried to imitate over the decades spanning 1950-1990 was in Toronto in person on Sunday June 27. The inimitable Manna Dey thrilled a full house at the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill with renditions he made famous as a playback singer in Indian films. Backed by Kamo Maharaj on the synthesizer and Debu Chaudhuri on tabla the 84-year old maestro delivered with ease such unforgettables as ‘Ai mere johra zabeen’, ‘Jhanak jhanak tore baaje paayaliyaa’, ‘Laagaa chunri me daag’, ‘Poochho na kaise’, ‘Kaun aayaa mere man ke dwaare’, ‘Tujhe sooraj kahoo ya chandaa’ and a string of 21 other memorable tunes. Toronto-based Indian Music Teacher Annju Chaudhuri joined Shri Manna Dey in those numbers that required accompaniment. In picture above, anticlockwise from front right, Shri Manna Dey Ji, Dr. Budhendranath Doobay, Shiv Misir (Program Organizer), Hemant Misir and young Akshay, son of Shiv.

 

Self confessed informant of ‘Death Squad’ gunned down


Bacchus had identified three men as his brother’s killers who were all charged with murder. They are funeral home owner Ashton King, ex-policeman Sean Hinds and Mark Thomas also known as 'Kerzorkee' who later died in hospital.
Last Friday, Debra Douglas, reputed wife of the murder accused Ashton King, along with Delon Reynolds alias 'Fat Boy', a handymwith the Bacchus’ family, both appeared before Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen charged with the killing of Bacchus. The Magistrate also issued an arrest warrant for a third person, Fabian Jessup, known as “Fabi”, who is implicated in the early morning killing.
It appears that Bacchus’ killing did not arouse other members of the household. The dead man's nephew said he heard gunshots and when he did not see his uncle appear to investigate as he normally would in instances like that, he rushed into the room and saw his uncle lying on his bed in a pool of blood. Even the guard dogs did not bark which seems to suggest that someone familiar to the residents committed the act.
Persons living nearby also noted the stealth with which the killer gained access as no vehicles were heard in the area at the time.
Many Guyanese have expressed concern, given the history of events subsequent to the killing of Shafeek Bacchus, that George Bacchus was not afforded protection by the police. Commissioner of Police Winston Felix claimed that Bacchus had never requested police protection.
Bacchus had gone to the American Embassy purportedly with information about the “Death Squad.”
The Embassy then revoked the non-immigrant visa of the Home Affairs Minister. Bacchus subsequently went underground after the allegations were made and refused to make a statement to the police claiming that several police officers were involved.
After several weeks, George Bacchus resurfaced and repeated his allegations. He made a sworn affidavit with the help of senior PNC party activists. The PNC held on to the affidavit and has only now, after the man’s death, released it to the authorities. The PNC’s rationale was that when an acceptable commission of inquiry was set up to investigate the allegations, the affidavit would have been released.
Several police officers who were implicated in the affidavits and some close relatives including the dead man's sister-in law, Jean Bacchus, were held by the police for questioning. One of the officers is a close relative of the late hit man, Axel Williams, another a Lance Corporal while another was named in the affidavit made by Bacchus as being a member of the squad. 
The fourth policeman was said to have questioned Bacchus's nephew just prior to his death, specifically asking whether Bacchus slept at home. 
The police is reported to have gotten a break into the case when they questioned the Bacchus family handyman, Delon Reynolds who is believed to have shown the police where the weapon was discarded. 
The PNC and the other parliamentary opposition had earlier rejected the commission of inquiry announced by President Jagdeo to enquire into the “Gajraj Affair.” The parties were not satisfied with the composition and terms of reference for the commission. President Jagdeo in his most recent move to resolve the issue announced the appointment of former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Keith Massiah, to replace chairman of the Police Service Commission, Ivan Crandon.
He also announced that Home affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj was proceeding last Friday in order to facilitate the work of the commission.
Bacchus' allegations and manoeuvrings have caused many to question his credibility. In a taped statement, Bacchus recanted his earlier allegations that implicated Minister Gajraj. The tape was made at the home of PPP/C Member of Parliament, Shirley Edwards in which Bacchus said that his allegations against the Minister were made out of anger at the Minister when his brother was killed.
Bacchus then called a local media outlet to report that he was promised G$10,000,000 and safe passage out of the country if he recanted his statement. The self-confessed informant said that he was eager to get out of the country as he believed he was the target of several groups. He then maintained his allegations that the Minister had knowledge of the death squad.
The police moved swiftly to track down the killer/killers and at a press conference, Commissioner of Police, Felix said that no stone would be left unturned in the investigation.


His Story
The man who said he was a cattle farmer, claimed that he provided information on criminals to the death squad but became alarmed at their continued operations after they had eliminated several high profile criminals.
He made the public allegations after the drive-by shooting of his brother Shafeek, he claimed that the intended target was himself as he had fallen out with the squad and they were after him. He told the press that he was able to identify the three men in the car who killed his brother as he was standing few feet away.
Bacchus made the allegations that Minister Gajraj was knowledgeable of the operations of the squad and also implicated several high-ranking policemen and businessmen, including a local drug kingpin, who he said provided the group with vehicles and weapons and other tactical support. He identified a local pub, Auby's wine bar where he said that persons were kept and tortured.
The man is believed to have made a statement to the American Embassy but so far the embassy has not released any information, it did however, revoke the non-immigrant visa of the Home Affairs minister.
Bacchus, who police claimed that they were" burned" by, meaning he was not a reliable informant, said that after the squad killed the notorious criminals, the continued to carry out contract killings of which he believed the minister had no knowledge of. He decided to continue to monitor their activities and was stalked by the squad. 


Sworn Statements

The police also questioned the informants credibility noting that the man's information had not turned out to be true in some cases.

The police moved swiftly to track down the killer/killers and at a press conference, Commissioner of police, Felix said that no stone would be left unturned in the investigation .

Several police officers who were implicated in the affidavits and some close relatives including the dead man's sister -in law, Jean Bacchus were held by the police for questioning. One of the officers is a close relative of the late hit man, Axel Williams, another a Lance Corporal while another was named in the affidavit made by Bacchus as being a member of the squad. 
The fourth policeman was said to have questioned Bacchus's nephew just prior to his death, specifically asking whether Bacchus slept at home. 
The police is reported to have gotten a break into the case when they questioned the Bacchus family handyman, Delon Reynolds who is believed to have shown the police where the weapon was discarded.
Bacchus laid to rest.
Bacchus was laid to rest last week in an unassuming ceremony, the casket was accompanied by a small group of relatives and interned in the family crypt alongside his brother Shafeek.

L to R, Ronald Doobay with trophy in hand, Dev Bansraj Ramkissoon, Mr. R.S. Bagga from the Indian Consulate and Mr. Michael Lashley, Consul General for Trinidad and Tobago. Pix by Manshad Mohamed

Speakers at Saaz-O-Awaaz Academy of Music graduation urge -

Govt should give credits to graduates

By Manshad Mohamed

Mr Dhaman Kissoon, Head of the legal firm ‘Kissoon and Associates’, made a passionate plea for the recognition of the Saaz-O-Awaaz Academy and the curriculum used by the students, to be recognised by the Provincial Government and included as bona fide credits towards their diplomas in Secondary School education.
The Toronto solicitor was one of the speakers at the Academy’s 13th anniversary celebration held at the Holiday Inn in Brampton on June 27, 2004. Several students graduated at various levels of attainment in singing and in the playing of harmonium and tabla. They performed impressively to a large audience comprising their parents, relatives and invitees.
Speaking to Indo Caribbean World, Mr Kissoon submitted that the students of the music school make herculean efforts to pursue and master a very rich art form in a country that purportedly recognizes the art and culture of its varied citizenry. Their sacrifice is a part of learning which they do while still keeping up with their mainstream school curriculum. 
Mr. Kissoon’s suggestion was further emphasized by Mr. Malcolm Lashley, Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago who stressed the importance of “adhering to one’s culture, the soul of our existence, without which there is no identity." 
Keynote speaker, Dr. Kuldip Kular, MPP, said that learning how to sing and play music should facilitate the students to be better citizens, with a desire to help their communities. 
"You are lifted by your own imagination and you can be anything you want to be," the MPP advised.
Among the senior graduates were Jennifer Raykha, Nikita Patel, Neeta Singh, Steven Mohabir, Purendra Ronald Doobay, Dev Singh, Davindra Akalu, Christina Raykha, Nishali Patel, Satyanand Arnold Doobay and Dave Bansraj Jr who has gone to India to further his studies in Tabla. The Senior students received gifts and trophies.

 

 

 

Police reform bills defeated
Victory for the people, Panday says

 

By Sandra Chouthi
Special to Indo Caribbean World

 

Port-of-Spain Defeat of the three Police Reform Bills in Parliament last week drew mixed reactions throughout the country that ranged from disappointment to relief.
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association Anthony Aboud expressed regret over the non-passage of the three Bills, as did the Point Fortin Chamber. There were also calls on the government to reveal its 'Plan B' to deal with crime.
However, Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday said afterwards that the defeat of the Bills was a victory for the people.

Basdeo Panday


"I think the country is much wiser about the Constitution, much wiser about the dangers in having a police state and much wiser in giving uncontrolled power to the political directorate," Panday said.
He said the single factor which forced the Opposition to vote unanimously against the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2004, which proposed the abolition of the Police Service Commission and the establishment of a Police Management Authority, was a decision by the government to reject a proposal to refer the legislation back to a joint select committee of Parliament. Panday said that was the main request of the Opposition.
He said because of that, "there was no way we could have supported the Bills." 
"It's a pity that the government didn't want further consultations on the Bills. That's a pity," Panday added. 
Debate over the contentious bills - the Police Service Bill, the Police Complaints Authority Bill and the Constitution Amendment Bill - took place in Parliament from June 29 and continued until July 1.
The bills were originally put before the Senate, but was withdrawn in late June. The government remained mum on whether amendments were made to the bills - on whether they were watered down.
The ruling People's National Movement advocated that the bills would aid in reducing crime, hence the name anti-crime.
The Opposition United National Congress contended the bills were mislabeled, and that if the UNC were to agree to their contents, it would create a police state by giving the prime minister too much power.
One of the bills, the Police Complaints Authority Bill, was seeking to replace the Police Service Commission, which is essential in the appointment of a police commissioner; it also deals with disciplinary matters.
Panday, who has been calling for constitutional reform since 2002 when the PNM assumed office, called for checks and balances to be in place before his party would support the proposed legislation.
"Governments tend to abuse power and the most important thing is that the innocent people of Trinidad and Tobago must be protected against the abuse of power from the political authority," Panday said on June 20.
Sir Ellis Clarke, former president of Trinidad and Tobago who was one of the framers of the Constitution and who led the team that drafted the Police Service Reform Bills, said on June 24 the bills will not directly reduce crime, but added that the measures in them contain the necessary checks and balances to prevent an abuse of power.
Regarding the replacement of the PSC, Sir Ellis said this body was not working, reflecting the position of former commissioners of police.
He said the committee did not introduce new checks and balances, that these provisions have been in the Constitution since 1962, and that if they worked reasonably well there, then was no need for change.
Sir Ellis said there was need for change in the Police Service, that there was dissatisfaction within and outside of it.
Government ministers, whose portfolios range from trade to works to planning, used every opportunity, in and out of Parliament, to attack the UNC on these bills.
Business associations and union leaders and even one credit union president came out in support of the bill. They supported the government in its call for the Opposition to do likewise.
But the ever-ready-for-battle Panday in responding to Jim Lee Young, president of the South Chamber of Industry and Commerce in his call for the UNC's support, said Lee Young and others like him should "take off their balisier ties." The balisier, a flower, is the official emblem of the PNM.
Lee Young also owns an oil exploration company, Venture Production (Trinidad) Ltd., which has secured government contracts to drill for oil.
Panday had met with Prime Minister Patrick Manning on June 21 to try and convince him to postpone debate of the bills, but Manning was adamant.
Panday said he wanted to let the population know that he had preserved their freedom and that they owed him one.
Manning said on June 21 that passage of the bills was not about the government, but about the country. He stated that the bills were not a panacea, that the current system of management of the Police Service could not effectively produce the results the country needed from it.
National Security Minister Martin Joseph has said that he is not toothless, but that the minister is answerable to the population and the Parliament for the performance of the police, but at the same time his hands are tied as it relates to the authority which is supposed to accompany that responsibility.
The calls for the UNC to support the bills came in the wake of a high murder rate (125 as of July 1), an increase in kidnappings and other violent crimes.
The government launched a media blitz urging the public to put pressure on their Members of Parliament to ensure that the bills were passed. But despite the attempt, the bill did not obtain the necessary two-thirds majority in Parliament, receiving only an 18-15 count when MPs voted in the early hours last Friday morning.

 

 

   

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