Some residents of Number 56 Village in Corentyne, Berbice are accusing authorities of bulldozing an ancestral village cemetery, but officials say the land has been earmarked for a cricket ground, resulting in a standoff between some villagers and the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
The land, situated on the seaside of the village, was cleared a few days ago and villagers say tombs have been destroyed. Fifty years ago it was known as the village burial ground.
Back then, ‘Old Poonai’ as he was known, had owned most of Number 56 Village. A section of it was given for the burial of family but other villagers also utilised the area.
According to Dhaneshwar Poonai, about 200 persons were buried there. He said although the cemetery had not been used for half a century it was still viewed as the resting place of their ancestors.
He said last year cousins from the United Kingdom came and assisted with cleaning the overgrowth and painting the tombs.
Meanwhile, Reerakraj Poonai said he tried to intervene when the land was being bulldozed, but was unsuccessful.
Acting Regional Chairman Dennis DeRoop, in an invited comment, said the area belongs to the 52/74 NDC and is part of their reserve land. According to DeRoop, it is not a cemetery. He said some residents had gone to the NDC seeking permission to utilise the land.