Police accused of delay in NIS attack probe

-Buddy Shivraj, workers still to be questioned

Police are yet to question businessman Omprakash ‘Buddy’ Shivraj and several of his workers who have been accused of threatening and physically assaulting a group of National Insurance Scheme (NIS) inspectors more than two weeks ago.

This newspaper was reliably informed that police visited the NIS sometime last week and took statements from the inspectors. A source, however, added that no attempt was made by the police to hold the businessman or his workers over the very serious allegations. The source added that the NIS is still to get back the records they had attempted to seize from the businessman, which allegedly incited the attack on the group.

Meanwhile, this newspaper was unable to reach Police Commissioner Henry Greene for a comment on the investigation, while other senior police officials were unable to provide information.
The NIS, in a press release issued several days after the incident, had said that the inspection team, which was headed by Senior Inspector Nicholas Yearwood and included Inspectors Regan Baxter, Carolyn Peters and Leslie Allen, who were accompanied by driver Horace Richards, “came under attack” while visiting the construction site at New Providence. The officers, it said, were conducting routine exercises and visited the site to execute a full compliance check.

During the visit, the officers impounded for inspection three wages records and time sheets. As a result, the NIS said, they were surrounded by Shivraj and several of his employees, who prevented them from leaving the property. “Mr Shivraj and his employees held the officers hostage whilst using threats and force in demanding the return of the impounded documents which were forcefully wrenched from the hands of Inspector Regan Baxter,” it added.

The release said that the matter was later reported to the Providence Police Station but it did not say what action was taken by the police. A source later informed this newspaper that the inspectors were at the station for more than an hour but left after the ranks failed to act on the report that was given.

From the accounts of the source, the inspectors were sandwiched by two heavy-duty vehicles, before men who “one could have seen was armed to their teeth under their shirts” opened the vehicle doors and took away documents. The source said that at this point the inspectors were physically assaulted by the men.

Shivraj, when contacted, had dismissed the allegations as lies before saying that it was the NIS employees who were the aggressors. He had said too that it was unreasonable for his records to be seized, when he was paying his workers the following day.

Dr. Roger Luncheon told reporters at a post cabinet press briefing last week that the NIS was working to put measures in place to protect its employees from such situations. Dr. Luncheon is the chairman of the NIS Board.

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