Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee yesterday promised members of the Ruimveldt/Alexander Village Vishnu Mandir and residents that security will be provided on Saturday night for their Deepavali celebrations.
Rohee’s surprise visit was made yesterday after residents’ cries for assistance from law enforcement bodies to reclaim the peace they once enjoyed on Deepavali night, the Hindu Festival of Lights. For almost 11 years revellers have been disrupting their Deepavali celebrations and terrorizing old folk and children.
Gerhard Ramsaroop, a member of the mandir, told Stabroek News yesterday afternoon that the Home Affairs Minister has promised to have security provided on Saturday. Four residents, Ramsaroop said, will also be meeting with “senior officials” at 3 pm today to discuss the details of the security plan. Another general meeting for Alexander Village residents will also be conducted at 5 pm today at the Ruimveldt Primary School.
Rohee, according to Ramsaroop, warned residents that not everything is perfect and they will have to make sacrifices to ensure their security. The barricades that will be erected in the village, Rohee told residents, will cause some inconvenience but it is a sacrifice that will have to be made.
A senior police officer, Ramsaroop also reported, told residents yesterday that barricades will be erected and persons entering the village on Deepavali night will be subjected to searches.
“We’re looking for prevention,” Ramsaroop said speaking on behalf of the mandir. “Violence begets violence and we are looking for greater peace.”
Last Deepavali thousands of revellers had flocked the streets in Alexander Village and invaded yards, damaging property and terrorizing residents in their homes. Over the years people have been afraid to walk the village’s streets on Deepavali night for fear of being robbed or somehow attacked by one of the many strangers.
Scars of the many years of squib attacks launched by the revellers still remain at the village’s mandir. A hole in the mandir’s front shed reminds devotees of the year hundreds of strangers climbed atop of it. Burn marks are still on the wall where firecrackers were hurled and horrible memories remain with the people of Alexander Village.
However, with the response from the Home Affairs Ministry residents are hopeful that the long-awaited change for the better is finally occurring. Police have advised the mandir to start their prayer service promptly at 7 pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the mandir has stressed that their objective is not to keep Guyanese out of their celebration but to provide a safer environment in which it can be enjoyed.