Strong media criticism as another Guyanese businessman is murdered By Rickey Singh
Guyana Chronicle
June 3, 2002

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PORT-OF-SPAIN--As yet another businessman is robbed and murdered in Guyana by armed bandits, both of the country's leading Sunday newspapers yesterday came out with trenchant editorial comments on apparent lack of official effectiveness in curbing the wave of criminality afflicting the nation over recent months.

The bandits shot and killed cambio cashier Ramnauth Persaud (44) at the Commerce House in Regent Street in Central Georgetown, opposite the City Constabulary office in what was viewed as a classic replay in 1999 when armed bandits shot and killed a cambio operator and escaped with some GUY$13 million (G$189=US$1).

The police could not confirm the exact sum of money stolen but it is reported to be a large amount, according to the wounded proprietor of the money changing business, Kennard Gobin. who received multiplied gunshot wounds and is hospitalised.

The death of his cashier, Persaud, known as "Jack" followed within 48 hours of the killing by armed bandits in two cars of constable Andy Atwell when bandits went on a shooting spree at the Alberttown Police Stations on Thursday evening.

In its editorial, "Who's in Charge", the privately-owned 'Stabroek News" pointed to an ominous unsourced pamphlet addressed to " All Senior NCOs and Ranks of the GDF (these are the Police Force and Guyana Defence Force)". The pamphlet enjoins them to refuse to "be used" by the governing People's Progressive Party (PPP), and exhorts them to "rise up against the Government as well as their senior officers..."

In urging appropriate and effective action, the newspaper said it was clear that "we have moved from a straightforward problem of crime, therefore, to one where the fragile compact underpinning our society could be threatened with dissolution...."

It also cited the similarity of this latest provocative leaflet with its racial overtones and call for action by members of the security forces to rise up against the government, with that of an earlier pamphlet to originate from the five armed and dangerous criminals who shot their way out of the Georgetown Prison on February 23 and remains at large.

For its part, the public sector-owned 'Sunday Chronicle' in a 'Viewpoint' in its editorial column called for "emergency action, now to a dangerous situation posed to the security of the state and physical safety of citizens, irrespective of race.

The 'Chronicle' called on the government to immediately introduce limited states of emegency/'curfews following a specified period of amnesty for the handing over to the security forces of all illegal firearms and offensive weapons and the capturing of those wanted for murder, armed robberies and other criminal offence.

One striking comment was the call for Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj to either tender his resignation or be appointed to a new portfolio by President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The newspaper said that there must be joint and consistent operations by the police and army in a new major thrust to beat back the scourge of criminality, saying that precedents for such operations existed in other CARICOM states including Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

Meanwhile the Guyana Police Association in a statement condemning the killings of four policemen in less than three months by armed bandits, declared that ":it is imperative that all organisations and civic-minded citizens continue to support the police in their fight against crime, and the maintenance of law and order, which will guarantee the peace and stability in the society...."