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N Touch
Monday 18 June 2018
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Patrol places of worship

A GROUP of Hindu and Muslim religious leaders are calling for more police patrols at places of worship in the wake of a spate of recent armed robberies.

The request came in the form of a letter which is to be sent today to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and copied to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. It comes after a media conference on Sunday at the Kailash Parvat Sharana Gati Ashram in Las Lomas No 2, chaired and convened by attorney Ashvani Mahabir.

The conference was called to highlight the breaking, entering and burglary of the temple last week Wednesday and was attended by several religious leaders, including spiritual head of the temple Pundit Param Maraj, Pundit Satyanand Maharaj of the Satya Anand Ashram, Pundit Mukram Sirjoo, PRO of the Inter Religious Organisation and Imam Ibrahim Asif Ali of the Las Lomas Ahlus Sunnah Wall Jamaat Masjid.

“All leaders present expressed the strongest condemnation at the act of burglarising (sic) a place of worship and denounced it as a vicious act of sacrilege. A view was expressed that the recent spate of attacks may reflect that criminal elements consider religious institutions as ‘soft targets.’ A call was also made for stronger security measures to ensure the safety of those who attend places of religious worship,” the letter said.

“This appears to be a new kind of crime, as we noted that this was the second robbery at the said ashram since it opened in February and Pundit Maraj has now estimated losses in the vicinity of $25,000. We also noted that on May 19, there were reports of four masked men breaking into the Lakshmi Narayan temple in Freeport and stealing $160,000 worth of cash and jewellery. Also in December, 2017, Fr Clyde Harvey was robbed by armed men at St Martin’s RC Church in Belmont.”

The letter asked for a public statement on the matter from Dillon, as well as a meeting with him to discuss ways the group can engage the security services to combat this menace; to engage the attention of the CoP to encourage more community policing and patrols in and around places of worship, particularly on days of religious devotion/service and during special events; and to request a review of the laws on sacrilege and offences committed in places of worship.

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