Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Kublalsingh among 5 arrested in new protest
Drama unfolded yesterday as five Highway Re-route Movement activists were arrested for blocking heavy-duty machinery along the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway. Tears flowed as three women and two men, including HRM leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, were carted away by heavily-armed South Western Division Task Force officers to an awaiting 24-seater green band maxi-taxi at the OAS Construtora worksite, located several hundred metres into a forested area off Mon Desir.
Kublalsingh, Shastri Chaitoo, Roshmi Mahabir, Leela Boodhai and Gita Boodhai are expected to appear before a Siparia magistrate today to answer charges of obstructing police officers in the execution of their duty and possibly resisting arrest. Yesterday, as officers held Kublalsingh, who was filming the arrests of his fellow activists at the time, a teary-eyed Leela grabbed his hands and tried to pull him away from the officers. After that failed, the screaming activist lay on the ground and officers had to bodily remove her.
“Shame! Shame on this government,” Leela Boodhai shouted, claiming that brute force was being used against people who were standing up for their rights. She called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to listen to the residents’ cries, as they only wanted to live freely in their community. Gita was arrested while pleading with the officers. She said Persad-Bissessar had betrayed the people, since in 2010 she promised that no highway would have been built in their community.
Mahabir was held as she tried to retrieve a camera which fell from one of the activists, while Chaitoo was arrested last after he refused to leave the site when ordered by police. For Kublalsingh, today will be the fourth time in two weeks he is scheduled to appear in court. He is already facing five charges arising from protest-related incidents.
From as early at 10 am yesterday, 16 members of the movement journeyed several hundred metres into a forested area until they came upon the OAS Construtora site near the under-construction Mon Desir Interchange. They had a short conversation with the operator of a heavy-duty roller, who told them he was only doing his job.
The activists then formed a human chain around the machinery and after waiting for close to 20 minutes, the driver eventually switched off the engine and left. The HRM members remained in the scorching sun for more than four hours, with other members bringing water to them on occasions. At around 2 pm, a party of officers led by Sgt Jones arrived and warned the activists that they had five minute to leave the site. Several members retreated, leaving a few behind. The officers later arrested those who remained.
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