PNM chairman Franklin Khan’s opening statements at Wednesday’s PNM Macoya Divali celebration noted that Divali transcends politics.
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PNM claims violence from TOP followers
The rivalry between People’s National Movement (PNM) and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) heated up yesterday with the PNM claiming TOP supporters had verbally and physically attacked one of their young supporters.
The victim, Crystal Smith, 16, was allegedly targeted as she showed her support to the PNM as a motorcade was passing in her community on Tuesday, the PNM camp claimed yesterday.
Her mother, who requested anonymity, said: “A PNM motorcade was passing around 4.30 pm Tuesday evening introducing the candidates and she put on her red PNM jersey and ran out the road because she liked the music.
“There were some TOP supporters in the area and they told her ‘don’t walk here, this is TOP country.’
“They are always harassing her. She gave them some ‘backchat’ and they cursed her and one of the men hit her on her foot with his hand.”
Smith said the matter was reported to the Scarborough Police Station who advised them to go to a Justice of the Peace.
PNM Tobago Council PRO, Denise Tsoi-a-Fatt-Angus, said that was not the first report of violence they had received since the election campaign started.
She added: “We got a report that TOP supporters passing in a truck in Black Rock pelted a man wearing a PNM jersey and burst his head. Then we heard they pulled a senior citizen out of his car and slapped him up, telling him he was going around tearing down TOP posters.”
Tsoi-a-Fatt-Angus said this was the first time they were witnessing this level of violence and aggression in Tobago’s politics.
“Tobagonians always have been civilised for elections. People wearing red and yellow jerseys will be dancing together. Many people have relatives on both sides of the fence. It’s a tragedy things have gone to this level,” she said.
Tsoi-a-Fatt-Angus said she did not believe the attitude was coming from the PNM camp.
“I would really think this is not the PNM way of doing things. We have been admonishing our supporters to not get involved in confrontations with the other party,” she added.
Responding to charges from TOP leader Ashworth Jack that 20 thugs from a religious sect have been driving around intimidating TOP supporters, she said: “I don’t know who else has access to those kinds of people.”
PM, Warner fly in to help
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and National Security Minister Jack Warner flew into Tobago yesterday evening, reportedly to lend support to TOP leader Ashworth Jack for a series of political meetings this weekend.
Warner was photographed by T&T Guardian photographer Marcus Gonzales coming out of a helicopter at the ANR Robinson Airport, Crown Point, shortly before 6 pm. Persad-Bissessar arrived within the hour by plane.
Both were expected to make appearances at TOP political meetings last night in Plymouth and Moriah.
As for claims from TOP activists that they were being chased from the yards of PNM supporters by people brandishing guns and cutlasses, she said: “PNM supporters don’t have guns.”