No charges laid as yet - police
Stabroek News
January 23, 2002

No one has been charged as yet with the violent attack on proprietor of CNS Channel 6, C.N. Sharma, on Sunday, which caused him to be hospitalised.

Sharma underwent further medical tests yesterday, including a CT scan, and is still an inpatient at the Davis Memorial Hospital.

Police Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent David Ramnarine, stated that two men were held initially by the police and released on bail. He said the men were to submit statements but asked to consult with their lawyers before doing so.

According to Ramnarine, Sharma, too, was to have submitted a statement yesterday, but he could not confirm whether this was done. He said that investigations were continuing into the incident.

The PPP/Civic (PPP/C) issued a statement yesterday urging all groups and individuals to await the police findings and not to rush to make libellous and malicious statements for political and other reasons. The party rejected outright any allegation that it was connected with the incident in which Sharma was injured.

The PPP/C said that regarding Sharma's right to free speech, it was the PPP/C administration which restored and ensured the blossoming of the this right, freedom of the press, and all other basic freedoms that Guyanese were denied in the past.

"The PPP/C will continue to play its part to safeguard the right of every single Guyanese, including Mr Sharma, to exercise these rights and freedoms within the confines of the law and in a responsible manner," the party stated.

The ruling party urged the police to continue their investigations into the incident.

The opposition PNC REFORM (PNC/R) called on civil society to condemn the attack on Sharma, which it said was an attack on press freedom and the violation of the constitutional rights of the television owner, who is also the leader for the Justice For All Party.

"For its part, the PNC/R stands foursquare behind Mr Sharma and will do whatever is necessary to defend his right to express his views and support the voiceless in our country," the PNC/R stated.

Also coming out in condemnation of the attack was the ROAR Guyana Movement, which said this attitude sustained "the dark cloud of intimidation, which hangs over and constantly puts at risk our freedom of speech and assembly."

The party noted there was a troubling history of attacks on Sharma by individuals who viewed his criticisms as threatening. ROAR said Sharma, like any other citizen, must be given the right to air his opinion for any lesser standard would condemn the nation to live in a dictatorship. "We request all citizens to be vigilant against ... intimidation from any quarter... who knows for whom the bell will toll next," the party said.

The Guyana Action Party/Working People's Alliance and the Guyana Press Association had earlier condemned the attack.

Sharma was beaten by a group of men on Sunday when he visited the West Coast Demerara area to hear the concerns of some of the residents in the area. Sharma and his production crew were at a businessman's premises in Meten-Meer-Zorg when he was attacked.