Police curb squib menace in Alexander Village

-residents say better crowd control needed

Alexander Village residents are crediting the stronger police presence in the area for reduced reports of the use of firecrackers on Diwali evening, but they say there remains a need for improved crowd control methods.

“There was definitely a decrease in the use of these illegal squibs and things of the sort but I don’t understand how people who are living here are refused access to the streets to come in. The police stop you at First Street and then you have to park your vehicle out there or at Mandela Avenue and walk in. Leaving your vehicle there is a risk,” Second Street Resident Sanjay Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday.

Persaud said that the Guyana Police Force definitely needs to put better measures in place to accommodate the residents of the village, who are inconvenienced at Diwali. “They really need to do something to avoid that and look it,” he emphasised, while noting that some persons were forced to return to their homes early in order to be allowed in.

According to Persaud, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee and the Divisional Commander George Vyphuis met with officials and members of the Alexander Village Vishnu Mandir, which is located at Third Street, where the meeting took place. He said this is the usual procedure every year before the Diwali celebrations and that residents are publically notified in order for them to attend. That did not happen this year.

“The minister usually invites residents to discuss security and things like that but this year they didn’t do that… it was only like 20 to 30 people, mostly the Mandir administration… nobody didn’t know,” Persaud stated.

However, he noted that there were more active police on the ground this year and unlike years past, the lawmen were dressed in their uniforms and made their presence apparent. He stated that the ranks manned the situation well and in the vicinity of the Mandir, a few arrests were made.

This was confirmed when Stabroek News contacted the Public Relations Department of the Guyana Police Force. A rank told this newspaper that usually every year on Diwali, a number of arrests are made not only in Alexander Village but in other communities and divisions.

Another resident, Ronald Jaipaul, said that in previous years, the situation was severe, and it had gotten to a point where persons were injured after squibs were thrown into their verandas and homes while others were robbed when bystanders threw the explosives into their passing vehicles.

Neran Jondoman, who said he has lived in the village all his life, told this newspaper that there was one instance when a man jumped from his veranda when a squib was thrown there and broke his rib when he fell.

According to him, in the past, police focused their energies on protecting the Mandir since persons targeted that building but this year they spread out through the village and were able to maintain a peaceful crowd.

Jondoman further opined that it is usually outsiders who go into the area on Diwali night and behave badly. He stated that if the police continue to have a heavy presence during the holiday, such persons would be discouraged from such behaviour.

Other residents, who asked not to be named, told Stabroek News that the authorities need to address the problem of squibs at a higher level and first look at ways in which they can prevent the illegal explosives from being imported.

“They need to work from the top down. Around time like now and Christmas, down to the smallest child can go to the shop or market and purchase squibs. It is very easy to get. So, instead of them coming in here on Diwali and arresting people who buying it, they first have to look at the dealers. If they don’t have it on the market, we won’t have this problem,” one woman said.

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