While Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee promised residents of Alexander Village protection during their Deepavali celebrations he also warned that “you can’t eat your cake and have it” and they would need to make some sacrifices including turning over fellow villagers who disrupt the peace.
Following the cries of members of the Ruimveldt/Alexander Village Vishnu Mandir and residents for help from law enforcement bodies to restore the peace they once enjoyed during their Deepavali celebration, Rohee made a surprise visit to the village on Monday.
Yesterday senior police officials met with four residents at the Brickdam Police Station to discuss their concerns about security and a meeting was then conducted at the Ruimveldt Primary School where Rohee, accompanied by a team of officers, listened to the concerns of more than 50 residents of Alexander Village.
Residents told the minister and police of the more than 11 years they have endured strangers invading their community and attacking them in the privacy of their homes. Some had windows broken, children terrorized by firecrackers while others complained that it was hard to move from one place to another in the village on Deepavali night.
The issue gained notoriety during last year’s celebrations when thousands of revellers invaded the streets, yards, stairs and sheds of residents to have a grand time. Vendors selling various foods and alcoholic beverages were scattered throughout the area and the ruckus prevented the mandir from conducting their evening service. The mandir has been unable to conduct its evening service for more than a decade.
The minister warned that the law does not take sides and anyone, he stressed, who breaks the law or disturbs the peace would be dealt with. He further noted that while most residents have said that “outsiders” are the ones who are causing the problems there may be “insiders” who are involved as well. He urged residents to aid police in identifying those among them, if any, who are also involved in disturbing the peace.
The “lawlessness and hooliganism” must come to an end, Rohee said, adding that those persons who have intentions of entering Alexander Village to cause trouble on Deepavali night should think twice. Police, according to him, will be out in full force and will be arresting and charging persons who are brazen enough to violate the law.
The question of the ban on firecrackers was also raised at yesterday’s meeting. One resident urged the minister to implement stronger measures to deal with those who import firecrackers and sell them despite the fact that it is illegal.
Rohee said that “squibs” had already been banned and police are doing all they can to control the situation.
Like all things that are illegal, Rohee pointed out, people still find some way to get them into the country and onto the market. He again urged residents to inform police about those persons in and around the village who are selling the illegal items that contribute to their distress. Meanwhile, Deputy Commander of Police ‘A’ Division (Georgetown to Timehri) David Ramnarine has been given the responsibility of organizing and conducting security operations in Alexander Village on Saturday night.
Ramnarine, giving a hint on Saturday’s security plan, explained that police both in uniform and civilian clothes will be out in their numbers prowling the community to ensure that all goes smoothly. Because barricades will be erected villagers are asked to assist by avoiding trips in and out of the barriers with their vehicle during a certain time.
The Deputy Commander assured residents that police would be present in the community from 6pm to midnight.
He also said that anyone seen selling alcoholic beverages or promoting any “improper” gathering of any sort will be dealt with accordingly.