10 Feb 2010

Failing State

A boy orphaned by murder, who grew up to become a bitter village outcast, was arrested yesterday after chopping two children on their way to school.

Witnesses said the attack was unprovoked, and the victims-Shereena Mohammed, 14, and Brandon Pahalad, 12, were cut multiple times on the head and body.

Mohammed's skull was fractured. She was listed in critical condition at the Port of Spain General Hospital last night.

Villagers set fire to the suspect's home shortly after the chopping which happened at 7.10 a.m.

The bloodletting happened near the Williamsville Junction and within sight of the home in which-in January 1994-Chadee's minions killed Deo Baboolal, his wife, Rookmin, and children, Monica and Hamilton.

Baboolal's two other children, Osmond, 13, and Haematie, seven, were witnesses to the massacre but allowed to live. Haematie was adopted by a family, did well at school and holds a good job in San Fernando.

Osmond Baboolal, whose testimony at the murder trial helped convict Chadee and the gang, never left the village. He was twice convicted in 2000- for threatening a group of schoolchildren with a knife and for beating an uncle.

In yesterday's incident, the victims were among a group of children standing at a bus stop when the suspect walked up to them. And without a word, the man began beating Mohammed, a pupil of Marabella North Secondary School.

Schoolboy Chetan Gangasingh who witnessed the attack said, 'The girl fell to the ground, and then he started chopping her on the head. Brandon went to grab his schoolbag, and the man started chopping him, too. We got scared and we ran.'

Mohammed was chopped three times on the head while Pahalad suffered a wound to his left ear. They were taken to the Princes Town District Hospital and transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital.

Pahalad, a pupil of the Gasparillo Secondary School, underwent emergency surgery and was in stable condition, his aunt Geeta Gayadeen said.

Gayadeen said, 'Brandon's mummy dropped him out on the junction to get the school bus. And within five minutes, she got a call that he was chopped.'

Rasheana Mohammed said her injured sister woke early to get to school.

'She walked out the road with my daddy for the school bus. A few minutes later, we see daddy running home. He was screaming that someone chopped my sister. We went down the road and saw her covered in blood,' she said.

The Mohammeds live at Pooran Street, the street on which the Baboolals died 16 years ago.

Witness Nekamal David said, 'I saw the man sharpening the cutlass when I was going to work. But he always has a blade in his hands. Then I hear the children screaming. And I saw my niece on the ground covered in blood. Some men started pelting the man with stone and bottles, but he run. I chased him, but he run away.'

Two hours later, the 29-year-old suspect was captured walking along Garth Road, Williamsville. He was expected to be charged last night.

Neighbours said since his family's death, the man was never the same. 'He would walk the streets talking to himself. He always had a weapon, but he never attack anyone. Nobody had anything to do with him. He would steal people crops, but we did not think he would do something like this. Last week, the police take away his cutlass, but he went and buy a new one,' David said.

Princes Town Police are investigating.

I reposted the entire article, just in case the link disappears from the Express’ website.

The reason I bring this to the attention of readers is to point out, once again, the failure of the State to take positive action.

No, I don’t mean to arrest the man, or lock him up, or ‘section’ him (send him to St Ann’s Mental Hospital), or shoot him as the dunceys are wont to do when they see a cutlass. I mean the failure by the then UNC government to provide counselling services and treatment for a 12 years old boy who watched his family being slaughtered. If I recall correctly, this young lad was hiding under the bed, when he was found, and was even further traumatised when Chadee took a long time to make a decision whether to let him live.

Further stress and trauma came as he was put through a trial that made national and perhaps international headlines, thrusting a pre-teen into a different world, where he had to hear unpleasant things about his family, on top of seeing them killed before his eyes.

Not only that, I am sure defence lawyers took care to enter his head and shred all remaining sanity.

Yes, in all of this, the failure of the state was tantamount to putting that cutlass in his hand this morning. In the zeal to try, convict and hang Dole Chadee et al, Ramesh ‘Lawsuit’ Maharaj, then AG, did not see fit to provide support for 2 terrorised children. Neither did his minions.

I blame the State for this tragedy. While this man may have to face the consequences of his action, and unjustly face criminal sanctions, the real failure lies at the feet of the State in the uncaring manner which he was treated.