Pundit Satyanand Maharaj believes that urban youth along the East-West corridor are targeting people of East Indian descent in Aranguez, San Juan, and across the country.
“I say that boldly, they are products of a failed education system, they are products of failed parenting…the miscreants of the East-West Corridor who feel that what you have belongs to them…even if the statistic say three were killed in Charlo Village and one was killed here, they all have the same complexion, they all come from the same ethnic group,” he said during a media conference to address crime in Aranguez yesterday.
He made the claim mere meters away from where businessman Chavelle Ramjattan was murdered just over a week ago by bandits who were attempting to rob him.
“Aranguez has been under duress not today, it has been growing steadily, a lot of the businesspeople that you see have been held up at their homes…Aranguez is like a ghost town in the night, nobody walks the road,” he said.
He said the criminals think East Indians have money because of the size of their houses and while he did not have official statistics to corroborate his claims, he said the victims usually describe their attackers.
“The crime in Aranguez is against East Indian people because we live in Aranguez, we are the ones being targeted but the perpetrators are not East Indian. The urban youth, the miscreants of the East-West corridor, those who have been allowed to fall through the cracks of society and emerge post-pubescent to terrorise because they going and look for a lil change to give their mother because their mother have 14 and 15 children,” Maharaj said.
He added, “… Because if they in Aranguez today, what stopping them from going El Socorro tomorrow? … and if they in Aranguez today, what stopping them from going Valsayn tomorrow?
He also does not believe that prison will make a difference.
“We have to call it how we see it…when you lock them up you send them to university, that jail is university to them, where they get to network with bigger criminal,” he said.
But not everyone living in Aranguez agreed with Maharaj’s assessment.
Resident Abdul Hakeem immediately challenged the Pundit, saying his statements were untrue and racist.
“You cah say it’s only one set of people doing the crime, because they have people inside here who bringing in people and it’s people like myself (East Indian) who bringing in people here to do the crime. So, when you blaming one urban colour for doing the crime you talking nonsense, we are not here for that,” Hakeem said.
Maharaj accused Hakeem of having an agenda, but the latter denied this.
The Pundit said on Sunday, the National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds spoke with residents and noted their concerns when it comes to crime, but noted they had seen any action since then.
“Not an extra patrol…nothing has changed in our community,” he said.
Other religious leaders present at the event were Pundits Satiya Charya Brananand Rambachan, Jairam Seeram and Umadutt Maharaj, along with Imams Kazim and Imtiaz Ali.
Pundit Rambachan, who is attached to the El Soccoro Temple, said they are ready to take up Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher’s call to get back into the communities to help guide the youth away from crime.
“This is the only way we will succeed, this is the only way we will tell the new generation coming up that crime, murders, assassination is not the way,” he said.
He said he will send a proposal to the Prime Minister this week in the hope of meeting him and Harewood-Christopher.
“I want an improved future generation. I can’t change the generation of today but I can plant the seed and if the Prime Minister allows me, we will make the streets of this country our pulpits,” he said.
As he wiped tears from his eyes, Pundit Rambachan placed his hands on the land and said he will not leave T&T and called the higher sprits to take the wheel.
“To bring our country to a land of love, to bring our country back to a place of peace, to bring our country to a place of understanding,” he cried.
Guardian Media yesterday asked the T&T Police Service for a breakdown of ethnicities of victims of serious crimes, inclusive of murders, in the San Juan/Barataria and El Socorro Policing Districts for the last five years. However, there was no response up until press time.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of the North Eastern Division, Mervyn Edwards, said he plans to meet with Aranguez residents soon. He said there will also be a walkabout, but after the meeting is held.
“I work to partner with the people, as I will be doing with the community of Aranguez, El Socorro, San Juan, Morvant, Santa Cruz, Blanchisseuse and all the districts,” he said.
However, he could not confirm Pundit Maharaj’s claim about whether East Indians were being deliberately targeted in the Aranguez community and directed us to Crime and Problem Analysis branch.
Ignorance part of problem
Contacted for comment on the Pundit’s claims yesterday, Nation of Islam T&T representative and Black Agenda Project head Dr David Muhammad, said, “Crime in Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-layered, multi-faceted web of intentions and activities on many levels. Unfortunately, some aspects of it remain largely invisible and undetectable, while other aspects of it are overly sensationalised and amplified. Unfortunately, the black male youth of our society, many who are fighting for survival, end up being the public faces, mascots and scapegoats for a situation that is rooted in problems that they have no control over.”
He said many people were labelling black youth while not trying to look for the root causes of their woes.
“In our society, there is the unfortunate ignoring of the causal factors, institutionalised structures of classism and oppression, ineffective political leadership and white-collar crimes that each have heavier impacts on our crime crisis than the young black boys who are blamed for it. When we hear blame being levelled exclusively to black urban youths in this way, it exposes a deep ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist attitude that is part of the problem.”