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of Bartica, Guyanese are still in the dark as to who carried out that attack. And in the absence of any police statement in re- lation to ballistics evidence linking the Lusignan killings - thought to be the work of the Buxton/Agricola gunmen - to those in the mining community, some security sources have advanced the hypothesis that a drug-linked gang might have committed the act.
Police, in a statement one day after the killings in Bartica, had noted that the gun- men wore foreign camouflage clothing and from all assessments, the killers seemed well-trained with an abundance of intelli- gence about the Bartica community. Their motive seemed not only to be murder, since they also raided the business place of Chu- nilall Baboolall where they stole 12 guns as well as a large quantity of gold and cash.
Information collated from various sources points to no conclusive link in the modus operandi of the killers at Lusignan and those who stormed Bartica, overrunning a police station and stealing a large number of firearms and gold on the night of Febru- ary 17. However, President Bharrat had taken the leap in announcing two days after the killings in Bartica that the murderers were the same men who had slaughtered 11 people at Lusignan. At a press conference on Friday, he repeated the statement that the two killings were linked.
The only official ballistics evidence of the Bartica slaughter was provided by Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee in the National Assembly earlier this month. Contrary to what Jagdeo had said earlier, Rohee announced that ballistics tests con- ducted on spent shells found at the crime scene at Bartica firmly established that the same weapons had been used to commit killings and robberies at three other loca- tions last year, namely, Better Hope on Au- gust 21, 2007; Sheribana on October 1, 2007 and at Triumph on December 16,
Up to last week a local newspaper could not ascertain from the police whether there was any ballistics evidence linking Lusig- nan and Bartica. When asked about the con- tradiction between his comments and those of Rohee, Jagdeo told reporters that the minister perhaps inadvertently omitted to mention the Lusignan-Bartica connection, and insisted that the two incidents were linked.
The police have not issued any statement on ballistics findings at Bartica, although they had done so shortly after the Lusignan killings. Security officials are of the view that even with ballistics evidence linking guns used at various crime scenes, in a so- ciety where criminals rent guns for specific operations the possibility that two different groups were responsible for the killings at the two separate locations could not be ruled out.
A senior security official had said that the attack at Bartica might have been a collab- orative well-executed plan by drug-linked gunmen operating out of Guyana and neighbouring countries. The local newspa- per Stabroek News had been told that cer- tain known shady characters who had links with the drugs trade might have hit hard times and they are believed to be involved in armed robberies.
A senior police officer said that the force was aware of these reports, but asserted that there was no hard information on the claims. "What we know is that we are look- ing at everyone, whether you dealing drugs or doing robbery," the officer who asked not be named said. According to the police of- ficial, the scale and manner of the slaughter seemed to be more than criminality, and there might be a bigger motive behind it.
hree young dancers, from left, Felicia Tiwari, Radha Sookdeo
and Diana Tiwari, gave their best at the Malton March 15
fundraiser for the Bush Lot Vedanta Academy. Story on Page 18.
The executive jet idea is, however, still alive and will return in a different form, probably involving a leasing arrangement. Caribbean Airlines (CAL), in a statement announced that it would not be proceeding with the purchase of an executive jet "at the present time".
CAL stated that the airline, the Govern- ment of Trinidad and Tobago and Bom- bardier were unable to reach an agreement and "as a result, the parties had mutually agreed to withdraw from negotiations".
Leader of the Opposition Basdeo Panday says the public must take credit for forcing the government and Caribbean Airlines to
abort its obscene plan to purchase an exec- utive jet for the use of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
"It is vulgar in its own right that the gov- ernment, through its agents in Caribbean Airlines, sought to purchase this $300 mil- lion jet while citizens cannot afford to buy food, hospitals have no beds and violence takes over our schools.
\u201cBut this transaction has reeked of cor- ruption from the inception. It is not surpris- ing that the parties cannot agree to a standard contract clause that would void the transaction if corruption is proven. Perhaps this is because the transaction is already so tainted," Mr Panday said
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ian consideration for Guyanese refugee claimanst in Canada is steadily gathering signatures across the country.
The petition claims that security of Guyanese has been compromised by the re- cent massacres and that failed refugee claimants should not be sent back to Guyana where their security is not guaran- teed.
In view of the massacres of innocent cit- izens, including women and children at Lusignan on January 26 and at Bartica on February 17,2008, the fact that security of Guyanese has been eroding since 2002 and the Government of Guyana has only now requested overseas help to protect its citi- zens, we the following individuals and or- ganizations hereby request the Canadian Government to immediately review all cases of unsuccessful Guyanese Refugee Claimants; stop all removals to Guyana and allow the applicants to remain here on Hu- manitarian and Compassionate or other grounds.
Some of the comments echo the fears and frustrations of Guyanese in North Amer- ica.
Narvin Radhamohan: It is obvious that the State of Guyana cannot offer effective state protection to its citizens.
Darren: I am surprised that only 100 con- cerned Guyanese have signed this petition when more than one third of Guyana's pop- ulation lives in North America. The next at- tack could be your flesh and blood. Help those we can now.
Yogmati Rampersaud: Please help my fel- low Guyanese is mainting a safe home for their famlies.
Mahendra R. Singh: It is indeed a noble act to help those in dire need. Your considera- tion in this matter is highly appreciated. God Bless!!!
to become one of Toronto Caribana\u2019s major sponsors from this year. The bank, which has strong Caribbean connections, will sponsor Caribana for two years for a reported six figure sum.
The offer has been welcomed by Caribana\u2019s CEO Joe Halstead, as a sign that the corpo- rate sector in Canada is finally recognizing the festival. Caribana in past years has had a poor reputation because of its failure to submit audited accounts and chronic con- fusion and infighting at the management level.
All is still not well with Caribana today, as the Toronto Mas Bands Association is claiming that some prize money for the 2007 festival are still owing, and other pay- ments were made in December last year in- stead of just before the celebrations in August.
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the March 3 assembly elections in theCanadian Province Alberta. It included a Sikh student of law. The winners have pledged to promote relations between Canada and India.
There were tremendous opportunities for business in the fields of oil and gas between Alberta and India, the newly elected Indo- Canadian legislators said in their victory speech. The five, including University of Windsor law student Manmeet Bhullar, said they were committed to promoting ties be- tween India and Alberta.
Bharadwaj, Peter Sandhu and Raj Sherman. Three of the five law makers were elected from the city of Edmonton while two were elected from Calgary.
About 40,000 Indo-Canadians live in Cal- gary and Edmonton. In the outgoing as- sembly, only one Indo Canadian was elected law maker.
Manmeet Bhullar and Raj Sherman have been appointed parliamentary assistants; Bhullar for advanced education and tech- nology while Sherman for health and well- ness. Bhullar (27), who is the youngest parliamentary assistant, has been an adviser to federal Cabinet Minister Jim Prentice and the Prime Minister's Office on issues affecting Alberta and the territories.
His emotional victory speech included a thank you to his parents who moved to Canada in 1970 "for instilling me with this desire to serve."
There are several other Indo-Canadian MPP\u2019s in Ontario and British Columbia, with Toronto\u2019s Bas Balkissoon remaining the sole elected Indo-Caribbean MPP in Canada.
Indo-Caribbeans are estimated at 200,000 of the 1 million South Asians in Canada, with the 125,000 plus Indo-Guyanese as the largest sector, followed by approximately 50,000 Indo-Trinidadians, and smaller amounts of Indians from Jamaica, Suri- name, St Vincent, St Lucia, and Grenada.
GOPIO Upper New
York plans Indian
Arrival Day function
established GOPIO of Upper New York Chapter, announced two community events to be held in the coming months:
Commemoration of 170th Anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in Guyana on May 11, 2008 in Bronx, New York. Invited VIPs include Guyana's Ambassador to the USA Beni Karran, and Guyana's Consul General in New York Brentnold Evans. A com- memorative Indian Arrival Day brochure would be issued with pertinent information on Indian Arrivals in Guyana and a histori- cal perspective of the initial and subsequent journeys.
GOPIO of Upper New York Chapter has also initiated a golf outing scheduled for June 11, 2008 at the Dunwoodie Golf Course. The theme will be "Remembering Sewsankar 'Papwa' Seegolum" and pro- ceeds will be used for funding GOPIO of Upper New York Chapter community ac- tivities.
To register for these events for more in- formation, contact: Satruhan Sukdeo at 917-747-9523 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Global Organization of People of In- dian Origin (GOPIO) will have chapters in all important cities in Australia. GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham visited several cities in Australia including Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Perth and addressed meetings of Indian commu- nity leaders and activists in February and March.
Currently with an Indian population of about 250,000 people including a sizable number of Indo-Fijians, Australia has one of the fastest growing Indian communities after United States and Canada. It has the third largestIndian student population, as much as over 40,000 students studying at
Sydney area has the largest Indian com- munity population. The meeting onFebru- ary 27th was organized by GOPIO Regional Coordinator Noel Lal. Perth has a smaller Indian community compared to other cities, but growing faster because of the mineral and natural gas boom.
Wholesalers shook off a disappointing December to start the New Year with a flourish, helped in part by a price driven surge in the sale of agricultural chemicals. Statistics Canada reports sales by Canadian wholesalers rose a healthy 2.6 per cent in January to $44.1 billion, effectively offset- ting the 2.6 per cent drop recorded in De- cember.
Six of seven wholesale sectors reported higher sales, led by very strong growth in the "other products" sector, up 11.4 per cent largely on the strength of agricultural chem- icals.
Wholesalers of machinery and electronic equipment (up 2.2 per cent), food, beverage and tobacco products (2.1) and building materials (1.7) also contributed to January's sales increase.
The farm products sector, which consists primarily of livestock sales, was the only sector to register a decline (down 4.6 per cent) in January.
Sales in constant dollars, which remove the impact of price changes to provide an indi- cator of volume sales, rose 3.5 per cent.
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