Minister Gajraj talks to BBC Caribbean Report
January 15, 2004
GINA - MINISTER of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj, has spoken to the BBC Caribbean Report on the recent allegations against him by self-confessed informant George Bacchus. On the radio programme, the Minister told the BBC's Rosie Hayes he does not deny that George Bacchus has been in contact with him on the telephone and otherwise.
Minister Gajraj said Bacchus has repeatedly spoken about the existence of a death squad, but he has consistently maintained that to the best of his knowledge there is no existence of such a body, let alone having connections with such a body.
Bacchus' brother Shafeek Bacchus was last week fatally shot by a group of gunmen later alleged to be members of a death squad to which Bacchus referred. Bacchus claimed that his brother was mistaken for him and wrongfully killed by individuals known to him.
The Minister said he is aware of allegations made by Bacchus to the effect that he called the Minister after the death of his brother. Minister Gajraj noted that Bacchus apparently became very annoyed after he did not immediately send police to arrest persons Bacchus had identified as being involved in the killing.
The Minister said that is not in accordance with the standard operating procedure. The Minister of Home Affairs, according to the Constitution of Guyana, is not empowered to instruct Police ranks to effect arrests.
Minister Gajraj said he spoke with the Commissioner of Police who informed him about the incident, after which George Bacchus, who called him, demanded that the persons he identified be arrested.
The Minister was asked about telephone records revealing his frequent contact with known criminals. He said, "If you are to get information about criminals, their whereabouts, their activity and all of that, you can't go to the person themselves or a religious Minister and get it. There are certain types of people who will be able to provide you with certain kinds of information. The issue of confidentiality has been a big problem with respect to the public at large and the Guyana Police Force. Even George Bacchus has said that he did not want to go and talk to the Police for whatever reason, so there are people who might have criminal records who might be in contact with me for the purpose of information. And there are others as well from all walks of life that might have been in contact with me. Not in contact with me as Ronald Gajraj, but because I am the Minister of Home Affairs".
The Minister was further asked what about the suggestion that he should resign. He said, "Anyone could come to the fore and call for the resignation of any individual. Does it constrain that person to resign? Even as investigations are being done, and the findings are as such, well, fine".