[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Guyana Police Force is denying that it stripped naked Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor, Naith Ram during a protest action by rice farmers in Essequibo last night.
Ram is also Chairman of the Essequibo Paddy Farmers’ Association. The farmers were protesting the late payment of monies for their produce by millers.
In a statement, the police noted that on June 30, the Association applied to the police for approval to hold a protest march on July 04, 2014, commencing at 0930h. from the Bush Lot New Market to the Anna Regina High Bridge where a meeting was to be held. Approval was subsequently given by the police.
The protest march and meeting commenced at 10:00h and proceeded peacefully with about 200 persons which included farmers. At the conclusion of the protest march and meeting, at about 1230h; most of the persons left, but some remained and began imbibing.
“At about 1715h. yesterday those who were imbibing and some others that included Mr. Naith Ram, boarded their motor vehicles, including tractors and trailers, and proceeded to drive along the middle of the main roadway in the vicinity of the villages of Reliance and Land of Plenty, Essequibo Coast, at a very slow rate.
“This action resulted in a back up of traffic as other motor vehicles could not pass, and they continued their actions despite efforts by police ranks to get them to drive on the left hand side of the road,” the police statement noted.
On reaching a short distance before the Land of Plenty Bridge, at about 1800h; the men continued breaching the laws by proceeding to block the entire roadway with the use of their motor vehicles that included tractors and trailers and to set fire to tyres and other debris that were thrown on the roadway. A utility pole was also used to block the roadway.
By this time the crowd had increased to over 400 persons and efforts by the police to get them to remove the vehicles from across the roadway proved futile.
“Missiles comprising bricks, bottles and other articles were thrown at police ranks in their attempt to remove the burning obstacles on the roadway, causing them to cease their efforts.
“Personnel from the Guyana Fire Service at Anna Regina could not reach the scene owing the blockages on the road. The police continued to appeal to the residents, but to no avail. The police then arrested Naith Ram, who was leading the protest, at which stage a number of other persons surged forward and accosted the ranks and took him away from the police. During this incident his clothing was torn and several police ranks were thrown into a nearby trench.”
“Naith Ram then stood among the protestors and stripped himself, and several persons took his photograph. He then left the area and later returned dressed in a change of clothing.”
“At about 2245h. the police once more appealed to the protestors, informing them that they were in breach of the laws, but they steadfastly refused to remove saying that they will only do so if His Excellency The President comes to address their concerns. The police then used tear smoke to clear the unruly crowd and nineteen (19) men, including Naith Ram, were arrested. They are presently still in police custody.”
Two tractors, four trailers, two motor cars and two motor cycles that were among the vehicles used to block the roadway have been seized by the police.
A member of the Guyana Defence Force who was dressed in uniform, and in a motor vehicle that was caught up in the congestion caused by the blockage of the road, was assaulted by a number of protestors. He was later treated at the Suddie Hospital.