Foulis man was killed trying to drive away
Attackers may have robbed other bus By Oscar P. Clarke
Stabroek News
December 3, 2003

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Foulis minibus driver Francis Parmanand Singh was shot dead as he made a desperate attempt to drive away from bandits and in the pandemonium that followed his son had to run for his life and passengers fled in all directions.

Police were up to yesterday continuing to investigate Singh's murder on Monday evening, as fears grow once again that commuters on the East Coast will be terrorised by armed gangs.

Singh, called `Shine Money', 45, of 68 Second Street, Foulis, East Coast Demerara died immediately after being shot in the head when gunmen pretending to be passengers stopped his Route 44 minibus.

According to sources, the police are working on the theory that Singh's killers might have been responsible for an earlier robbery of a minibus conductor when his vehicle had stopped to put off a passenger at Company Road, Buxton.

A release from the force yesterday said another minibus about half an hour earlier had been attacked by four men in the same area with the conductor being relieved of $5,000 cash and a silver chain valued at $9,000.

That vehicle had been held up by four men, two of whom were armed, as it stopped to drop off a passenger, the release said. According to the release, the men, after relieving the conductor of the items fled south into the village. The minibus was at time heading east along the ECD public road.

A release from the Police Public Relations Department said Singh, who was driving minibus BGG 7462 west along the public road, stopped for a man in the vicinity of Company Road who had signalled his intention to travel.

According to the police, three others immediately joined him, with two proceeding to the driver's side of the vehicle where one began demanding cash.

Singh is believed to have objected, proceeding instead to drive off when he was fatally shot, the release added. The four men later fled south into Buxton.

According to the release, Singh was later pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

This part was yesterday disputed by relatives who said that Singh's body, which was moved from the scene nearly two hours after the shooting, was taken directly to a city morgue.

They wondered whether this was the normal procedure or whether victims had to first be taken to the hospital when their status would be assessed.

Meanwhile, a police source told this newspaper that the force had initiated a number of measures to determine who was behind the shooting.

Singh, the owner of the pink minibus `Shine Money', was according to his son Prem Singh, heading to the city on his last run for the night.

According to Prem, his father was proceeding through Buxton with about eight passengers when a man with arms outstretched stopped the bus in the vicinity of Company Road.

Not thinking about the possibility of anything untoward, his father stopped to collect the man when instantaneously three others appeared and immediately demanded cash as two of them brandished guns.

Two of the men, one armed with a handgun, then approached the elder Singh while the other two went to the left side of the bus where they demanded that the bus engine be switched off.

The elder Singh in an attempt to evade the attackers tried to drive off when he was shot in the head, his son said.

The bus immediately began heading towards a trench. While the younger Singh fought with one of the attackers, the bus crashed into a nearby bridge severely damaging the front left wheel.

During this commotion the passengers escaped through the minibus windows.

After the minibus came to halt near a ditch, the younger Singh was forced to flee on foot to the neighbouring village of Annandale to escape the pursuing gunmen. It was while he was there that he called his brother to break the tragic news.

According to one of the deceased's sons, when he arrived at the scene his father was slumped in the front seat with blood covering his face. He was only being restrained from touching the wheel by his seatbelt.

The son also observed a hole in the region of Singh's temple.

The Guyana Indian Heri-tage Association (GIHA) in a release yesterday called on the government to dismiss with immediate effect Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj.

GIHA said this would show government's good faith and concern for the well-being and security of the citizenry.

According to the release "Guyana has been in the grips of a crisis of wanton criminality for two years while the PPP government evades, ignores, excuses and denies the breakdown of law and order."

GIHA charged that the government is continuing to fiddle while Guyana burns.

It again called for the appointment of Retired Brigadier Joe Singh to the office of Home Affairs Minister, while appealing to the government to "quit its propaganda that crime must be accepted because it happens everywhere in the world, and institute a programme of zero tolerance for criminal activity."

According to GIHA, Singh's death on Monday night has once more sent fear into the Indian community, especially on the East Coast.

The Indian Arrival Com-mittee (IAC) also expressed shock and outrage at the robbery and cold-blooded murder of Singh by what they said were vicious criminal elements operating in the village of Buxton.

The organisation called on the Commissioner of Police to throw all his weight behind the investigations to facilitate swift capture and punishment of the perpetrators.

The IAC in its release also called for an immediate increase in the presence of law enforcement agencies in Buxton to prevent any resurgence of the criminal activities, which plagued the ECD following the 2002 Mash Day jail-break.

According to the IAC release many passengers of Indo-Guyanese origin concerned for their own safety have repeatedly objected to being driven through the various crossroads of Buxton and having minibuses stopping anywhere in Buxton.

"The IAC also understands that many minibus drivers have deliberately ignored the wishes of these passengers and therefore have put their lives at risk.

The IAC wishes to warn all minibus drivers, especially those of Indo-Guyanese origin to exert extra care when traversing Buxton and not take unnecessary risks either to themselves or their passengers by stopping in or driving through potentially hostile territory, especially now during the holiday season," the release said.