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Monday 19 November 2018
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Pundit: Racism in UTT firings?

Pundit Satyanand Maharaj.
Pundit Satyanand Maharaj.

ARANGUEZ-based Pundit Satyanand Maharaj yesterday, in a statement, claimed most of the 30 lecturers given letters of termination on Friday from the University of TT (UTT) were East Indians and he is wondering whether the Government has any alleged anti-Hindu bias.

Asking if the Government is using the retrenchments as “an opportunity to get rid of mainly Indians at UTT”, Maharaj said the Government on taking office in 2015 had removed from UTT, Centre for Education head Dr Vashti Singh, Provost Dr Fazal Ali, VP of Human Resources Allan Raghunanan, and later UTT president Prof Dyer Narinesingh.

“Rowley’s PNM Government has developed a pattern of conduct that has proven to be anti-Hindu with the appointment of the lone, token, window-dressing Hindu Rohan Sinanan as Minister of Works and Transport in the Cabinet.”

Maharaj’s offered proof of bias by alleging blatant discrimination in the distribution of public housing at Real Spring in Valsayn, and the non-release of state funds in March for Phagwa, resulting in its first ever cancellation at the Aranguez Savannah in 50 years.

Recalling the “Calcutta Ship” statement made during a Tobago House of Assembly campaign, Maharaj said, “It seems that not only are we not wanted in Tobago, but the best and brightest that make up the Hindu/Indian leadership is also being driven from Trinidad as well.”

Former minister Devant Maharaj also questioned the dismissals yesterday, days after Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s bright forecast in his mid-year budget review in Parliament.

“About 40 lecturers from the Centre for Education programmes have been marked to be dismissed,” Maharaj said.

He hit Imbert’s boast that the economy is turning around.

“On Thursday, Imbert sang the words of Johnny Nash, ‘I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.’ What is actually gone is the selected lectures at UTT!”

Scoffing at Imbert’s claim of improvements in the economy, revenue collection, energy sector and non-oil sector, Maharaj hit, “Most of the population however have not seen any tangible evidence of that turn around.”

He named the terminated UTT lecturers as Rudranath Singh, Omar Maraj, Aarti Persad, Balmatee Sukha, Kumar Mahabir, Solomon Ragnathsingh, Amanda Rambaran-Sookraj, Rhonda Dookwah, Carol La Chapelle, Joseph Sanchez and Patricia Bascombe-Fletcher.

Maharaj said the terminations came mid-semester when there are four more weeks to teach. “Yet UTT gave these dismissed lecturers only one week to vacate the premises.”

He suggested the dismissal of some lecturers who had trained secondary-school teachers was arbitrary.

Maharaj instead said an alternative way for the UTT to cut costs was to end programmes such as Carnival Studies, Criminology and Marine Sciences, already offered at the University of the West Indies. “The sacked lecturers intend to meet with attorney Anand Ramlogan soon to take this matter to court. They want clarification on two issues: what criteria was used for dismissal, and was this criteria used across the board.”

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