I am responding to Anil Nandlall’s contention that, ‘The lands CoI Inquiry will leave a trail of unresolved issues in its wake’ (SN, October 7). On this issue Mr Nandlall is setting out to deceive, create public mischief and discord, even as I wait for him to bring before the commission the “more than 150 families” in Kingelly who claim to have a legitimate claim to land in this village, some of them for more than 200 years, unopposed. This would be a hard task. The entire village which was bought by my enslaved great-great-great-great grandfather Cudjoe McPherson in the 1840s and transported in 1850, does not possess that number of families, much less those residing on northern side of it, the whole of which he kept for himself, having parcelled out and sold the southern side, which the Commission of Inquiry was advised of.
Two of the persons in the picture Mr Nandlall shared with the media had approached me last year seeking the authorisation of the McPherson family to acquire help for them to get transport for the area they occupy. This is testimony that they are conscious the land does not belong to them.
There is no wrong time to do what is right. The time is always right to address conflict and bring about just resolutions. The CoI seeks to bring some sanity to a chaotic and thorny issue that has been festering in this society for years and creating problems among the people. The PPP benefits from this dysfunction and illegality. Mr Nandlall knows it and this is why the PPP does not want such a body to exist and used its parliamentary majority to kill the motion brought by PNC Member of Parliament Deborah Backer.
Before the CoI last week was the heartrending story of Joan Levi-Straughn, where reportedly in spite of the court’s ruling not to occupy this family’s land, the alleged trespasser, Shiraz Alli, continues to do so. When the law and the court ruling are being disregarded, where else can this hapless family and others seek justice? The CoI presents her and others experiencing similar problems an opportunity to air their grievances, provide the evidence in a non-acrimonious environment, where civility can prevail and other forms of legitimate action can be taken to bring about redress. The PPP would not be comfortable with this.
The fake claim by Mr Nandlall on the issue of Kingelly and that of Evan Persaud going before the body to ask that it does not take away land from some to give to others, fully aware that such is not its mandate, tells the society the level of mischief this party is stirring up. Mr Persaud is a leading member of the Indian Arrival Committee, a body that worked out of the Office of the President during the Bharrat Jagdeo government.
Indians too have appeared before this commission speaking to the matter of land that was taken away from them by the state. I am aware of an Indian man ‒ his name will not be mentioned given that his permission was not sought to so do ‒ whose family is presently before the court to reacquire land authorised to be occupied by the Lands and Survey Department to an alleged close friend of a former PPP president. In fact, this lease was signed by that president.
The above represents a sampling of the sort of shenanigans that have been going on with land in this country, and the challenges the rightful owners and heirs are facing. The CoI presents opportunities to have these issues brought to the public fore, which is making the PPP leadership afraid and angry. Their intervention on this matter is not driven by justice, but because they want to hide their actions, and in seeking to so do they find political value in using the ordinary man and woman, once again, as pawns in the furtherance of their self-serving agenda.