In the last week there were two incidents that shocked the sensibilities of most Guyanese. These were the murders of the rice farming, elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Munir from the East Bank of Essequibo and that of a young businessman, Mahendra Persaud, from Wakenaam conducting business in Georgetown. The murders were so brutal and callously executed that a wide swathe of Guyanese especially from the rural areas feel beleaguered.
Burglaries are not a new phenomenon in Guyana, and in fact over the last three decades, the windows and doors of houses in Guyana are now routinely “grilled” with steel bars in an attempt to ward off the perpetrators of that invasive crime. The windows and doors of the Munirs’ home were in fact grilled from the outside and also the doors to the bedrooms inside. Ironically, the Munirs lost their lives because their internal protection was so effective it frustrated the bandits in their robbery attempt. And this was when they took their depredation to a new depth of depravity: they poured gasoline over the house and set it alight. The Munirs, trapped in their “grilled prison”, were incinerated alive.
Mahendra Persaud, was purchasing goods in Georgetown for his business in Wakenaam, when in one of the busiest intersections of the city, a bandit attempted to snatch his cash and when he resisted, fatally shot the young businessman in cold blood. The bandit escaped with his accomplice on the now ubiquitous mode of criminal transportation, a CG motorcycle, while another accomplice who had trailed Persaud in a car, ran him over.
These incidents were committed by Guyanese on other Guyanese who live in the same society. The dastardly actions therefore raise to the fore the reasons for this disjunct in mentalities between those who work diligently to obtain the wherewithal to satisfy their material needs and those who have no compunction in violently seizing what they want from the former group.
It is trite to point out crimes will occur in every society. Poverty, imperfect socialisation, psychopathic personalities are some of the “explanations” commonly proffered. But if we want to prevent those crimes, there have to be mechanisms created by the state, which is supposed to protect the people, to discourage their commission.
Governments, after all were formed to change the conditions of life that was “solitary, short and brutish” by removing man from “the law of the jungle” into a comity of law and order.
The Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, made an interesting charge about the barbaric crime, when he attended the funeral of Mr and Mrs Munir at Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo.
“It is not a political event because no government in the world can stop crime. We too had our failure but what bothers me the most, is that it seems as though all the sentiments within our government are with the perpetrator and not the victims.” The Opposition Leader showed statesmanship in acknowledging the stubborn existence of crime in all societies and also the “failures” of his party’s administrations.
His charge about the present government’s “sentiments” on criminals, however, is a grave one and must be taken seriously by those in charge of our nation’s security. It appears, not only to the Opposition Leader, but also to many citizens that the government has created a false equivalence between criminals and victims.
While both are citizens of the state, the former have broken the social contract on which our society was formed. As such it is the responsibility of the government to deal with criminals condignly.