What began as a banal road accident some 45 days ago in Quatre Bornes has assumed an importance which could not have been predicted at the time. The vehicle of the previous Attorney-General, Yatin Varma, was involved in an accident at one of the junctions in Morcellement St Jean, Quatre Bornes. There was no human casualty. To all appearance, Yatin Varma was not to blame as his vehicle had been hit by another vehicle coming from the side road. This incident was complicated by the fact that the other driver presumably reported having been assaulted by Yatin Varma after the accident.
We do not propose to dwell into the way this incident was subsequently advertised by the media. Suffice it to state that there took place a virtual media manhunt after the Attorney-General, in which it was sought to prove that the young driver of the vehicle at fault would have been aggressed by no less a person than the Attorney-General himself. Yatin Varma continued to deny any such action on his part and he was publicly showing himself with his right arm plastered over in the wake of this accident. It was for the police to finalize its inquiry and proceed according to its findings of where exactly the facts lay in the matter.
The case was not going to be settled as straightforwardly as this, however. As the days went by, the Attorney-General was placed in the glare of high publicity by the media, at first for presumably having assaulted the young driver of the other vehicle. Clearly, the press wanted to amplify it further by putting him in as bad light as possible and thus exposing the office he was occupying. It had ready and regular access to statements made by witnesses of the accident, all of which purported to paint the Attorney-General in a bad light.
As this media battery against the presumed guilt of the Attorney-General carried on, it appears the latter might have lost his bearings. Somehow, he got drawn into “negotiations” with the parents of the other driver involved in the road accident. The media had made it clear by now that it was the charge of possible physical assault against this driver which had put him in a weak position to the point of putting in jeopardy his ministerial post. Sustained media pressure of the sort could make an otherwise reasonable person throw caution to the winds and do things that a reasonable person of his status and standing would not do.
The fact that Yatin Varma had gone out to meet the parents of the other driver was corroborated by both Reza Issack, a PPS in the present government, and later by Maurice Allet, the president of the PMSD (a coalition partner of the government), also president of the Mauritius Port Authority. The latter confirmed that there were meetings between the two parties with a view to mediation in the matter in the course of which they had either arranged the meeting or accompanied Yatin Varma. It was stated by the other driver’s parents that in the course of meetings held in this context, the Attorney-General would have made offers of pecuniary compensation for the case to be withdrawn, even though the latter has denied the same. It remains to be determined in court whether or not monetary compensation was discussed in the course of these meetings with a view to the other party agreeing to withdraw the case of assault with which it has charged Yatin Varma.
In view of these developments, the Prime Minister responding to a Private Notice Question of the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday last, stated that he had asked the Attorney-General to resign. By Wednesday, Yatin Varma had, from the private clinic in which he was being treated for having swallowed up an insecticide in the meantime, sent this letter of resignation as Attorney-General. It was clearly unpredictable that a small thing like a road accident could have taken matters to this point.
Probably not, without the continuous pressure being exerted all this way by part of the media which had found out one of its favourite opportunities to hound the government. Yatin Varma should have known that the trap had been carefully laid down for him to be captured on all occasions by carefully organized audio-video surveillance and that it was calculated to employ the whole arsenal so gathered to stand him guilty with recorded proceedings of all his meetings with his counterparties. Since he could not keep his cool against this sustained assault, he stood in the position of a prime target to be used as an example to vindicate the view held in part of the media and other religious establishments opposed to the government for atavistic reasons that a Labour government is essentially no good however much it stretches out to assist those forming part of the religious fold.
The aim of the establishment opposed to the government – while pretending to be objectively reporting on facts — was to find out its Achilles’ heel and shoot it down where it was most vulnerable. By offering himself in this game, Yatin Varma unwittingly contributed to create suspicion of wrong-doing against the entire government, something which is unfounded in facts. The fact that the establishment now wants to assail Reza Issack and Maurice Allet as well points out clearly what its ultimate ambition is. Inroads like this are not sought to be made accidentally. There is an ulterior motive. It is a matter of concern that individuals forming part of the government are unaware of this kind of pursuit by forces that would like to bring the government down on one count or other. It is a pity that they cannot bring themselves up to see the bigger picture.
* Published in print edition on 21 June 2013
65 years ago Mauritius Times was founded with a resolve to fight for justice and fairness and the advancement of the public good. It has never deviated from this principle no matter how daunting the challenges and how costly the price it has had to pay at different times of our history.
With print journalism struggling to keep afloat due to falling advertising revenues and the wide availability of free sources of information, it is crucially important for the Mauritius Times to survive and prosper. We can only continue doing it with the support of our readers.
The best way you can support our efforts is to take a subscription or by making a recurring donation through a Standing Order to our non-profit Foundation.