Dangerous Portent


The country has been continuously shocked by a number of deaths of the violent kind, namely victims of road accidents on a regular basis, and recently the deaths of a Woman Police Constable and that of a two-year old child in a drug-related context. As if these were not enough to traumatize us, here comes another tragic loss of life in circumstances yet to be elucidated and most likely caused by burning.

What is different from the other deaths here is that for the first time after nearly half a century, this would apparently be a death related to politics – or, should we say with political connections. Whereas the killing of activist Azor Adelaide was a matter of political rivalry, in the case of Soopramanien Kistnen, according to veiled allegations contained in press reports, this would have to do with money transactions involving a member of the current government or to people closely connected with the latter. This is a dangerous and terrifying portent because it is linked to power and the State.

For the DPP to initiate an enquiry, it means that the facts presented to his office by the lawyers for the victim’s family are judged to be weighty enough to justify further investigations, in which all those suspected to be connected with this matter are in all likelihood going to be called for examination in Court.

So far, there has been no comment on the part of the Prime Minister, a stand he will probably justify by the fact that there is a judicial enquiry on. However, the other aspect of this case is the question of whether that government member against whom veiled allegations have been levelled should step down. That VPM Ivan Collendavelloo had to do so is still fresh in the public’s memory. But what can be recalled too is that this happened when his name was merely mentioned in a document which came from the African Bank of Development, which the Prime Minister held up to show the viewers watching him during that intervention that was broadcast on MBC-TV. The ICAC enquiry on the VPM came afterwards.

The other perplexing aspect linked to Kistnen’s death is the fact that his wife was apparently appointed Constituency Clerk during the general elections, drawing Rs 15,000 per month. In declarations she has made, she has been categorical that she was and is completely unaware of all this, and has never received any money at all. This ‘appointment’ and the money allocated for payment are therefore in contravention of the law. Again, the law must therefore follow its own course here.

The troubling question in people’s mind is whether this incident is indicative of a new trend that threatens the country and its citizens, or a one-off that is equally damning. Either way, coming on top of all the other dysfunctions that have been plaguing the country, one cannot help having major apprehensions about the future of the country.

* Published in print edition on 8 December 2020

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