Lusignan residents urged to form vigilante group
-following two-hour terrorisation by bandits
Stabroek News
March 22, 2004

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Gun-butted: Dino Singh shows the injury to his head suffered at the hands of bandits who robbed and terrorised his family on Friday night. (Ken Moore photo)

Residents of Lusignan, East Coast Demerara are calling on their fellow villagers to come out and support the formation of a vigilante group to help ward off money-seeking criminals operating out of Buxton.

The formation of such a group according to one man is very critical given the recent resurgence of criminal activities on the lower East Coast. The man observed that for the past ten days there was a robbery of some kind almost every day which indicates that the criminals are regrouping.

"The people in Lusignan have to come out and support, not one and two people, everybody, because no one is safe," the man, a farmer, told this newspaper during a visit yesterday.

Fifteen gunmen beat and robbed two families in Lusignan on Friday night carting off $1M in cash and jewellery that they say they need to replenish their armoury. The gunmen spent close to two hours terrorising and humiliating the families, apparently confident that neither police patrols nor nearby residents would intercede in their rampage.

Alluding to the bandits' utterance, the farmer said it might be true the bandits are on a drive to replenish their armoury and regroup. He said this was a very distressing development for them, noting that ever since the crime wave erupted in 2002 only a select group of people and villages have been subjected to certain attacks.

During an interview with this newspaper recently a former member of the notorious youth gang in Buxton said the group was most active during the weekends and in the days leading up to public holidays. And the farmer said now that the Easter holidays are approaching the residents would likely suffer more attacks.

The man said residents had held a community meeting last week to discuss the issue but only a few persons turned up.

Asked what might be responsible for residents not supporting such a group, the farmer said "When night comes everybody wants to be in their home and with what going on now nobody wants to be outside, guarding and patrolling the village."

The man added that villagers are also concerned that the bandits are usually equipped with sophisticated weapons which could kill them.

"It is a serious thing. We can't want to protect ourselves with handguns when the bandits them get AK-47s," the man told Stabroek News.

He believes that the police would have to play a bigger role if ever residents are to get a break from the torment they are being made to suffer at the hands of the bandits. He called for more patrols along the embankment road in the nights.

But the attacks are not restricted to Lusignan. Annandale, Vigilance, Non Pariel and Coldingen have also felt the brunt of the gang's assault already.

Meanwhile, robbery victim Zarina Singh a market vendor of Lot 1314 Lusignan, Railway Embankment was still traumatised after Friday night's attack. The woman said she would never forget the incident noting that such terror would not be easily erased from her mind. Surrounded by scores of relatives and friends yesterday, Singh said each minute of the day she has been reliving the incident.

She was watching television with her family and a few neighbours on Friday evening when five armed men barged in and demanded cash. She was struck in her head with one of the bandits' gun when she denied having any money. The men then ransacked the home and found cash.

Singh told this newspaper that the police have not revisited her home since the attack but their patrols have been constant. She said her neighbours have been very supportive of her, explaining that there were a lot of nasty things done to her and her family during the ordeal. The woman said from all indications the bandits knew her well and were well informed about her activities. She said they also severely beat her intended son-in-law who was forced to drink a large bottle of white rum without stopping.

Singh said she watched in horror as one of the bandits stood over the young man with a gun pointed to his head and commanded him to "drink or be killed."

She said her son-in-law to be complied and after consuming the liquor fainted. But even then the bandits continued to terrorise him. She said they even offered him a piece of a pine slice as "chaser"

And her husband Dino Singh who is sickly said he thought his condition would have guaranteed him mercy at the bandits' hands but he had no such luck. He was kicked and gun-butted to his head. Dino displayed a bruised head yesterday when Stabroek News visited, saying despite the injury he still thanks God for sparing his life.

Singh said the robbery has left them in dire straits and she is appealing to those who can assist to help her family.