ATTORNEY General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall last week attended the Annual Pitri Paksh Sangam at the Lusignan Mandir Compound in remembrance of the 11 persons who lost their lives in the Lusignan Massacre on January 26, 2008.
Pitri Paksh which means “fortnight of the ancestors” is a 16–lunar day period in the Hindu calendar, when they pay homage to departed ancestors.
Over the past few years, residents of Lusignan and other surrounding communities have chosen the period to pay respects to the 11 victims of the ruthless attack that occurred five years ago. They are: Clarence Thomas, 48; Vanessa Thomas, 12; Ron Thomas, 11; Mohandan Goordat, 32; Seegopaul Harilall, 10; Seegobin Harilall, 4; Dhanwajie Ramsingh, 52; Seecharran Rooplall, 56; Raywattie Ramsingh, 11; Shazam Mohammed, 22; and Shaleem Baksh, 52.
During his address, the AG said that Hinduism is not merely a religion; it is way of life as it captures every facet of human life. Pitri Paksh is one of those facets that allows for people to pay respects to those who have died.
He said that outrage of the 2008 massacre shook not only Guyana, but the entire Region; stating that what occurred at Lusignan must never be allowed to be repeated.
“No time in our history did we ever experience anything like this, and today as we pay respect and we reflect on that horrendous atrocity, we must ensure that we draw lessons from that event,” he said.
He also spoke of the five sugar workers who disappeared without a trace during the same period, and lamented that the families of those men have been denied the dignity of performing the last rituals, which in many ways, offer closure and bring a sense of solace to those who are grieving.
Nandlall said that some of the persons, who executed the massacre, as well as those who intellectually authored it, are walking free.
“Robbery was not a motive, these were some of the poorest people in Lusignan…they did no wrong, there was an ulterior design which inspired this tragedy and caused it to take place,” he stated.
He reminded that the lawyer who defended two people who were accused of committing this crime is the chairman of a political party. He explained that while the accused persons are entitled to a lawyer of their choice, and the lawyer is free to choose what case he takes, “the freedom to take a case includes the freedom to refuse to take a case; but he chose to take that case. When the trial was completed, it was disclosed that the foreman of the jury was a client of his in a previous case.”
“Neither the lawyer nor the juror ever indicated to the judge that they had prior legal engagements, though this question was specifically asked by the judge of the juror in the presence of the lawyer. The relationship was only revealed after the trial was completed and the accused were acquitted, therefore not only did they enjoy the freedom you are enjoying, but also those who engineered it, and are prepared to embark upon extreme courses of action in order to ensure that persons charged with these offences escape the arms of the law, are also around and are competing to hold high governmental offices,” the AG said.
“However, Hinduism teaches us that while men may be able to escape the man made justice system, they will never be able to escape God’s karmic cycle. Those who slaughtered those parents in the presence of their children, and those children in the presence of their parents, and those who encouraged and helped them, before, during and after the event will not escape karmic justice,” the AG stated.
On the morning of January 26, 2008, a group of heavily armed gunmen entered “Track A” Lusignan, invaded the homes of five Lusignan families, shot innocent people at point blank including children who were sleeping in the beds.