Gajraj, McDonald signed Chowtie's gun licence
'Chequered past' man was PPP/C member up to `89
Stabroek News
April 9, 2004

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The firearm licence issued to dead bandit Gopaul 'Gewan' Chowtie in February last year was approved by Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj and signed by then acting police commissioner Floyd McDonald. (See copy of document on page 3.)

And the PPP/C confirmed yesterday that Chowtie was a member of the party but said there was a "mutual separation" in 1989. Chowtie died on Monday following an armed confrontation with police during a robbery on Sunday night at Success, East Coast Demerara.

Stabroek News has seen a document signed by Gajraj and McDonald dated February 15, 2003 licensing businessman/farmer Gopaul Chowtie to use a .22, .25 or .32 pistol/revolver and a 12- 16- or 20-gauge shotgun.

The document said "nothing adverse is known of him", and noted that Khemraj Ramjattan, attorney-at-law and Seetal Persaud, Commissioner of Oaths to Affidavits and Justice of the Peace recommended Chowtie. An application for a gun licence dated late 1999 and endorsed by Ramjattan was found among some documents in an old house on what was left of Chowtie's farm, along with a business card bearing Ramjattan's contact information.

The PPP/C's confirmation that Chowtie was a former party member was in response to a statement made by the PNCR at a press briefing yesterday, that the former treason accused had received military and overseas training on a PPP/C scholarship, and was a well-known PPP/C activist in Essequibo.

The PNCR also said that Chowtie was on the payroll of the PPP/C and a regular companion of Minister Harripersaud Nokta "during his election campaign activities in the North West District in the 1990s."

Chowtie had been charged with treason in 1991 and was granted amnesty in 1992. The police had said that the man had also allegedly been involved in piracy.

Answering the PNCR's claims, PPP General Secretary Donald Ramotar told Stabroek News yesterday he could not confirm whether Chowtie received any PPP training overseas, but said that he might have, "like other party members." Ramotar said Chowtie had been a member of the party up to 1989 but denied that Chowtie had anything to do with the party after 1989.

The PNCR said thousands of people have called for a review of the policy for the distribution of firearms to known criminals in Guyana. The party also said an investigation into the minister and Ministry of Home Affairs is an imperative that cannot be avoided whether the government is prepared to accept it or not.

Meanwhile, among the dead man's possessions at his run-down Hog Island, Essequibo River fish farm/residence, this newspaper had also seen a Guyana-Soviet Society Membership Card dated August 8, 1976 and bearing the name Gewan Chowtie.

In addition, the man had among his reading material pamphlets from Lake Mainstay Resort and on investment in Guyana for instance, 'Guyana Quick Reference Guide to Investment'. Other reading material included books by Felix Dzerzhinsky, Mussa Jalil and Leo Tolstoy. He also had books on small-scale fish farming and fishery statistics along with several old magazines. His fish farming venture never really took off.

Meanwhile, the PNCR said at its press briefing: "We call on the police to remain vigilant and to guard against planned attempts to sow the seeds of division and dissension within their ranks." The party added that the policemen who responded quickly to reports of the Success robbery are deserving of the nation's commendations and encouragement.

Included among the items recovered by police from the scene after the shooting were a .22 revolver with five live rounds, one 22/20 combination shotgun with one live cartridge, one AK-47 rifle, two matching magazines and 57 live 7.62x39 ammunition, one .32 Taurus pistol with 11 matching rounds, one spent shell, a large quantity of local and foreign currency and 17 ounces of gold among other articles.