AN embarrassment to the Hindu community and a man who has lost his way.
This is how one pundit yesterday described Maha Sabha secretary general Sat Maharaj after he withdrew his invitation to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to speak as a guest at Indian Arrival Day celebrations at its headquarters in St Augustine.
Maharaj criticised Persad-Bissessar for defending OJT teacher Nafisah Nakhid who was told she could not wear her hijab at Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College where she was assigned to teach science. He not only said Persad-Bissessar was no longer welcomed at Wednesday’s event but said she was no longer guaranteed the Hindu vote.
In response, pundit Satyanand Maharaj of the Satya Anand Ashram Temple of Truth and Bliss, Aranguez took to Facebook to call on members to boycott the Maha Sabha celebrations.
“We will no longer follow a leader who has lost his way,” said the pundit. “The vicious attack of Sat on the Leader of the Opposition and the rescinding of the Indian Arrival Day event is the response of a petulant delusional child.”
The pundit said it was incumbent on the Hindu community to send an unmistakable message to the Maha Sabha that Maharaj’s position is unacceptable. He said the unprincipled and archaic position of the Maha Sabha, under the apparently never ending stewardship of its secretary general, regarding the hijab issue is yet another example of national embarrassment for the Hindu community.
The pundit said Maharaj’s rants against Persad-Bissessar were crude and loutish. “The rant of Sat Maharaj on Friday via the Maha Sabha media radio/TV Jaagriti only underscores the issues surrounding the hijab. With the exception of few die-hard Maha Sabha supporters, there is little support for the banning of the OJT’s hijab and how it was done by Sat,” said the pundit.
He said the dispute remains a very divisive issue and not only a legal one about the rightness or wrongness of the hijab.
“Therefore, all right thinking Hindus should boycott the Maha Sabha Indian Arrival Day celebrations,” he said. The pundit said Maharaj’s time has passed and that hatred, bigotry and naked nepotism will not be tolerated.
“Stand up now. We are the children of Jahaji Bhai, our ancestors braved the Kala Pani and we will not cower, we will not run away and hide. We will stand against this injustice. Because if we do not stand for something we will fall for anything,” said the pundit.
Former Self-Help Commission chairman Surujdeo Mangaroo also said on Facebook yesterday that Maharaj does not hold any Hindu hostage. “The abhorrent and vile statements of the secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, is unbecoming of the largest Hindu organisation of TT,” Mangaroo said.
He said the Maha Sabha board has fooled themselves into believing that their “stranglehold on the Hindu schools and mandirs equate with some command of the Hindus who patronise these establishments.” Mangaroo said the last straw was the attack on Persad-Bissessar, a Hindu, for defending the constitutional rights of a Muslim OJT teacher.
“The issue is not of religious rights but of simple human rights and dignity. Sat in his diatribe misrepresented that the Hindu community are now free to support whoever they wanted,” Mangaroo said.
Maharaj in a previous interview said Lakshmi Girls’ was not a training ground for teachers and that anyone who is accepted to teach there had to conform with the school’s code of conduct.