Sacrifices of the ballot box martyrs (Part 1)

first_imgDear Editor,The supreme sacrifices of the ballot box martyrs must continue to unite Guyanese to fight for free and fair elections.July 16th marks the 45th anniversary of the brutal murders of two exemplary young men, who, with their lives, paid the ultimate price in defence of the fight for democracy. They were ruthlessly and brutally gunned down as they were among other villagers who were struggling for free and fair elections in Guyana.Bholanauth Parmanand, 45, and Jagan Ramessar, 18, were shot dead by soldiers of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on the evening of the general elections of July 16, 1973 outside of the polling station at Number 63 Village, Corentyne Berbice.The period gives testimony to a most treacherous time, when there were hardly any Guyanese citizens who were unaware of the People’s National Congress’s (PNC’s) wicked approach to National Elections; specifically, their heinous intentions to rig the 1973 Elections.Subsequent investigations conducted by the ‘Justice Dhaanessar Jhappan Commission of Inquiry’ revealed the very high likelihood of a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) victory if the elections were run in a free and fair manner. The Commission cited the massive public meetings held by the PPP, and the overwhelming public display of support for a Dr Cheddi Jagan victory.The PNC therefore, in order to ensure their victory by any means necessary, deployed the security forces, both army and Police, to all parts of the country. In addition to the regular strength of the Police Stations in Berbice, a battalion was deployed from the GDF under Captain Johnson.Captain Johnson had his command headquarters in the compound of the Central Police Station at New Amsterdam. Johnson’s men were further broken up into smaller groups, and a platoon under the command of Lieutenant Henry was sent to the Upper Corentyne on 7th June, 1973.The portion consisted of two sergeants, three corporals, five lance corporals, and nine privates. Twenty men in all, including Lieutenant Henry. The platoon pitched camp at No.51 Backdam, and remained there until 19th June 1973.From there they went to Plantation Skeldon, remaining there until 27th June, 1973, when they moved on to No. 63 Beach and bivouacked on the beach. On June 14th 1973, they left No. 63 Beach and set up camp in the compound of the No. 51 Police station. Their armory included self-loading rifles, sub-machine guns, tear smoke grenades and steel helmets.Yours truly worked on that polling day at Pouderoyen. As we were coming out at 5:30 am, I recalled seeing GDF soldiers crawling on the roadside with their guns.A physical manifestation of the PNC’s heinous intention to terrorise the population was unleashed in the form of thugs, Police and the army. It is not by chance that Private London of the GDF, who was later known to Guyanese as “Blackie”, was one of the masterminds among the criminal gangs that robbed, killed and terrorised the Guyanese people.It was not surprising that when ‘Blackie’ was killed in a shootout with the Police, the PNC draped his coffin with the national flag and gave him a party farewell funeral.Sincerely,Neil Kumarlast_img

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