I SAY, with sadness, that we heard of the unfortunate incident in Guyana involving the shooting of Mr. Quindon Bacchus.
And, with even greater sadness, I say that we saw a protest carried out three days ago by citizens on the East Coast of Demerara supposedly concerned for justice for the relatives of the deceased Mr. Bacchus.
What was perhaps meant to be a peaceful protest has turned out to be chaotic, riotous and violent. In the mayhem following the commencement of the protest, vehicles were set on fire, vendors’ stalls from the Mon Repos market were burnt down, and public roads were blocked with debris and burning tires to impede traffic to and from Georgetown.
Additionally, produce and other forms of merchandise locked up by vendors for safe keeping in the market were looted, and, finally, innocent people were assaulted and harmed.
The point to note is that the people who suffered as a result of this malicious damage, destruction and bodily harm were in no way related or connected with the perpetrators of the shooting incident.
And while there have been some voices urging restraint, we witnessed other expressions on social media and in print media encouraging further atrocities in the name of protesting the unfortunate shooting.
As we ponder all these happenings, we are forced to ask questions that all Guyanese must soon ask of each other: What does burning and looting of innocent people’s property have to do with meaningful protest against supposed injustice?
How does one wrong act (of shooting someone) justify another wrong act (of wanton destruction)?
When the protest and its attendant violence will come to an end, what will we claim as our achievement? Is it the repulsive sight of blackened vehicles and burnt stalls? Or, is it fear, mistrust and unjust violation lingering for days in people’s minds?
Or, is it the conviction that every time one political party is not in power their supporters seek to unleash violence on supporters of the other political party?
Mr. Editor, during the reign of one political party, we heard talk of social cohesion leading to one people, one nation and one destiny.
Are we ever going to see this one Guyana as the reality waiting for us as we turn the corner in the decade to come? What is important to understand is that injustice perpetrated against any one ethnic group in this country is morally wrong.
One unfortunate act of injustice, however, does not justify the commission of a second parallel act of injustice. Our older generation used to say, instructively, that fire matching fire creates bigger fire, something that may be difficult to extinguish. Wisdom requires us to find water to douse fire.
Collectively, let’s look for that ‘water’ and act responsibly or else we may end up sabotaging our own future existence. The Gurukula, along with its parent body the Arya Samaj, is asking for better judgment to prevail among all Guyanese.
Dr Satish Prakash
Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula
New York and Guyana