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Trinidad has seen an increase in violent crime, homicides, home invasions and robberies in 2023. Every day, social, print and television media report individual cases and it would appear that (East) Indians are disproportionately affected. The police, however, do not provide any statistical analysis, based on demographics, relating to the perpetrators or victims of these crimes. So, commentaries of high-profile people are left saying “crime is bad and out of control,” – that is it.
Pundit Satyanand Maharaj of Aranguez went out on a limb, and boldly stated the following to the media, "The miscreants of the East-West Corridor who feel that what you have belongs to them … they all have the same complexion, they all come from the same ethnic group.” His comment was met with widespread public condemnation and accusations of race-baiting, racism and divisiveness from both Indo- and Afro- Trinidadians.
While I have not scoured the newspapers to test his claims, relying only on memory, experience and observations, his claims seem to be accurate. The backlash Maharaj is receiving is tantamount to the gaslighting of the Indo-Trinidadian community by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and spokesmen who are fighting for political or community turf.
Shabaka Kambon also spoke on the matter. He is a member of the Emancipation Support Committee (ESC) and the son of Black Power revolutionary, Khafra Kambon. Shabaka said he wholeheartedly condemned the pundit’s statements. He told the Guardian (28/4/23): “We see them as calculated, reckless incitement to racial hatred and violence…When you get into that frame of mind, you ignore any information that is contrary to what you want to put out.” Typically, gaslighters try to gain power and control over another person by inculcating doubt and distorting reality. The Afro-centric Kambon does exactly what he accuses Maharaj of doing. Kambon's frame of mind ignores any information that is contrary to his own opinion.
This is a case of calling pot calling the kettle black. Kambon has accused Maharaj of incitement of racial hatred and violence but he, himself, has led mobs of people to rename Milner Hall at UWI to Freedom Hall in 2018. He campaigned for the removal of Christopher Columbus statues across the country. Isn’t this a calculated reckless, racial hatred against White people? The next step is for him to pull down Mahatma Gandhi ’s statue in Port of Spain. The Mahatma has been condemned as a racist by black activists in Africa.
Gaslighting is psychological manipulation. The reality is Indians are more frequently subject to home and business invasions. Afro-Trinidadians lead the count on homicide. But the unproven but testable hypothesis is that Indians kill Indians, African kill Indians, and African kill Africans – it is extremely rare for an Indo-Trinidadian to intentionally kill an Afro-Trinidadian.
Belly-up, the Maha Sabha did not resist, challenge or question the veracity of the Pt Satyanand’s claims, or the backlash. Neither does the leader of the Inter-religious Organisation Pt Lloyd Sirjoo; nor does UWI professor Jerome Teelucksingh. Sirjoo basically said, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Sirjoo, like many others, are making public statements without statistics.
Ms. Fatimah Mohammed
Chin Chin Road, Cunupia, Trinidad