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Closed casket upsets villagers

Friday, May 9, 2014
Members of the public stand outside the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church on Cochrane Street, Tunapuna during the funeral service of the Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

El Dorado villagers yesterday expressed their disappointment at not being able to view the body of attorney Dana Seetahal, SC, before she was taken away to her funeral service and cremation. Seetahal’s friends, family and colleagues from both the Judiciary and Senate had gone to her family home at Wilkinson Street, El Dorado, Tunapuna, hoping to view her body and pay their final respects, especially as many of them were unable to attend the actual funeral service. In anticipation of a huge turnout, police blocked Wilkinson and Back Streets to oncoming traffic. The family’s and a neighbour’s adjoining yard were also packed with mourners who came to see Seetahal for the last time. Many of them stood quietly or sobbed silently and only the noise of a bird or a neighbour’s car alarm were heard occasionally.

However, those gathered would express surprise when the body was delivered by Clark and Battoo’s funeral home and was then quickly taken into the house where her close relatives shut the door and stayed with her body for over an hour. Neighbours complained that they had also visited the house for wakes during the week (May 5-7) and were advised to return yesterday to see the body before the church service. They were thus upset that they could not get that opportunity yesterday. When the time came for the body to leave the house in the cortege for the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church, one of her relatives announced there would be a “closed casket and just pass around it.” There was a stunned silence but those who came to view the body realised they would have to respect the family’s wishes.

In an interview, however, one woman, who claimed to be a relative, said she was shocked because she also did not get to see Seetahal for one last time. “My last name is Seetahal. I didn’t get to see her. That is stupidness,” she said. Another mourner added: “She was a village girl. She was down to earth and open. She would pass here in her piece of pants and go running at Eddie Hart Grounds. “They make an announcement to everyone last night that we would view the body. I ain’t come to see them, I come to see her,” she said. Another neighbour, however, said she had managed to go into the house and managed to see Seetahal in the casket, adding the family did not “run” her. “They saw me. She looked pretty in her lawyer’s outfit. Nothing was wrong with she,” she said.

Several of the mourners who were disappointed expressed their anger and left. “I hot, I thirsty. That not right. I going in my house,” one said. “Make sure you find her killer,” an elderly woman said at the gate, speaking to no one in particular. The body was then taken to the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church, Cochrane Street, Tunapuna, for her funeral and then Belgrove’s crematorium .


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