Not even a pack of tracker dogs, a troop of soldiers, hunters and infra-red technology aboard the national security helicopters could find Highway Re-route Movement (HRM) activist Ray Kublalsingh, who disappeared in a forested area in Claxton Bay on Tuesday. Up to late afternoon, a search party of approximately 30 people comprising police, soldiers and villagers was still looking for 81-year-old Kublalsingh, the father of environmental activist and leader of the HRM, Dr Wayne Kublalsingh.
Ray Kublalsingh left home around 10 am Tuesday to search for cassava branches to plant in an area off his Kowlessersingh Road home at Union Village, Claxton Bay. Around noon when he failed to return home, his wife, Vilma, contacted other villagers, who went in search of him. Around 2 pm she called St Margaret’s police. Kublalsingh was last seen in green short pants and a light-coloured jersey.
With lanterns and flashlights, the search continued into Tuesday night. Yesterday, two helicopters were carrying out aerial searches, especially in areas where corbeaux were circling. Task Force officers, led by ASP Yusuf Gaffar, scoured the tracks leading to several gardens but came up empty-handed each time.
After covering a five-mile radius, officers said it was unlikely that Kublalsingh, who had recently undergone heart surgery, could have ventured far into the bush because of the hilly terrain and deep ridges. Police said they plan to widen the search today. They said it was unlikely that Kublalsingh was kidnapped as there was only one exit and entrance to the forested area. “We will continue the search as long as it takes. Lives are important to the police, so we will do everything we can,” a senior officer said.
Friends and family gathered at Kublalsingh’s home to comfort Vilma and some of their eight children. For most of the day, Wayne was at the Court of Appeal as the HRM continued litigation against the State over the San Fernando to Point Fortin highway. With relatives describing the disappearance as strange, Kublalsingh’s daughter, Judy Kublalsingh, said the family had not ruled out foul play in his disappearance.
She said it was normal for her father to go to the lands for 30 minutes on mornings. She added that he was very astute and smart. “For obvious reasons, I can’t rule out anything. It is very strange, he has no history of dementia, Alzheimer’s or anything like that. “It’s a hard call to make at this point in time but he is well known in the area. We are a close-knit community, so people are not likely to harm him at all.
“If he was accosted by someone, I know he is a fighter. He is strong at 81 and he would not go easily,” she said. As he joined the search in the evening, Wayne Kublalsingh said he did not believe his father was kidnapped nor did his disappearance have anything to do with the HRM. Speaking by phone, he said: “I doubt that very much, I cannot think that could be the case. “He is a man, once he gets inspired to do something, he does it vehemently and passionately.
“He may have gone walking in the bush, a little far away from home, looking for these cassava sticks.”