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Vijay’s family perishes in fire

By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Sunday, October 5 2008

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THE home of abducted Moruga schoolboy, Vijay Persad, was burnt to the ground killing both his parents and two younger siblings early yesterday morning.

The charred remains of his parents, Rajkummar “Denis” Persad, 49, and Marilyn, 48, together with his siblings Sanjay, 13, and Ariana, seven, were found in separate bedrooms of the house, located at Indian Walk Village, Moruga.

The eldest child — Malini, 17, escaped the fiery death, as she was not staying at the house.

Police investigators have not ruled out foul-play and autopsies are expected to be done tomorrow to determine the official cause of death.

On June 21, 2004 Vijay was assisting his father in locking up the family business — R-Persad Groceries and Snackette, (a small mini mart) — located at the front of their Moruga home when three men accosted Vijay. The men grabbed him after Rajkummar denied them entry into the business place.

An initial ransom of $300,000 was demanded but it was never paid and the kidnappers stopped contacting the family. Up to present day, Vijay’s whereabouts remain a mystery. Despite desperate pleas for leads in their son’s disappearance, police investigators came up empty-handed.

Last month, Vijay would have celebrated his 15th birthday Although the family never recovered from their son’s abduction, both Rajkummar, (who was reportedly suffering from depression and was unwell) and his wife continued to operate their small mini-mart though in an interview with Newsday last month, Marilyn stated that the family was thinking about leaving the area. She noted that several shady characters had moved into the area and she was experiencing feelings of insecurity in her home.

Sanjay was a Form Two student at Barrackpore Secondary School while Ariana was a Standard two pupil of the Robert Village Hindu Primary School, in Tableland.

Rajkummar’s nephew, Suresh Matttai, told Sunday Newsday that it was a tragic blow to the family.

“Relatives this morning (yesterday) had to go to the doctor when they heard the news. I do not know much but I last spoke to Denis on Thursday. It is very hard for us,” Mattai, who lives close to Rajkummar, said.

Meanwhile residents said they were awakened at about 1.15 am on Saturday morning by the loud crackling sound of fire. Upon investigation, they saw smoke emanating from the wooden two-storey house, which is situated next to the family’s snackette. But within minutes the entire four-bedroom house was engulfed in a huge blaze.

Officers of the Princes Town and Mon Repos Fire Stations responded, but despite their best effort, the house and business place were completely destroyed.

“It sounded like fire crackers and gunshots.

“We couldn’t hear if anyone screamed or anything. There are burglar-proofs which may have prevented them from escaping their deaths. Who knows?” a resident, who requested anonymity, said.

At about 7 am yesterday police officers removed the remains – two from the front bedroom and one each from the two remaining bedrooms.

At the scene yesterday, residents and curious onlookers gathered in the road to get a glimpse of the family while smoke was still billowing from the burnt ruins.

Fire officials estimated the cost of house and household appliances at over $350,000.

Efforts to contact Malini proved futile while other relatives were too distraught to speak about the incident. Autopsies are expected to be performed at the Forensic Sciences Centre, Port-of-Spain tomorrow.

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