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Monday 24 September 2018
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Hijab issue a ploy to destabilise Lakshmi girls

Sat at Indian Arrival Day celebrations

SALUTE: Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj (right) 
and Dharmacharya Pundit Utam Maharaj (second from right) are saluted by scouts at Indian Arrival Day celebrations at the Parvati Girls’ Hindu College in Debe yesterday.
SALUTE: Secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Satnarayan Maharaj (right) and Dharmacharya Pundit Utam Maharaj (second from right) are saluted by scouts at Indian Arrival Day celebrations at the Parvati Girls’ Hindu College in Debe yesterday.

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

SANATAN Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) general secretary Satnarayan Maharaj says years after indentureship ended, the minds of East Indians are still enslaved and need to be freed.

But Maharaj says his calls for political freedom do not stem from his disagreement with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Maharaj was speaking with reporters after the SDMS’ annual Indian Arrival Day celebration at Parvati Girls Hindu College in Debe yesterday.

Unlike previous years, there was no procession from the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation to the school and students gathered at the Debe Recreation Ground instead.

Last week, Maharaj uninvited Persad-Bissessar from the celebration after she said he should reconsider the decision to ask on-the-job trainee teacher Nafisah Nakhid not to wear her hijab in order to work at the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College.

“As a matter of fact, for several weeks now I have been meeting with religious people and intellectuals and we have drawn close to that conclusion, the actions of the Opposition Leader precipitated that response early, that response was going to come at some later stage where I am going to ask for freedom from political slavery and indentureship,” Maharaj said.

He accused the media of fashioning stories to suit certain agendas.

“We are no longer allowed to think on our own, others do the thinking for us – including the mass media and the television– they choose sides and they fashion the news to suit the side that they choose. It is for this reason that Donald Trump said you are fake media because you respond only to the politicians and the words of the politicians.”

Asked what his relationship is like now with Persad-Bissessar, he replied: “I am Sat Maharaj and she is Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I gave her the first job as a teacher in Lakshmi Girls College. She is a female who I will not disrespect because I don’t disrespect females.”

Asked if he had spoken to Persad-Bissessar since the controversy began, Maharaj said he has been busy with Indian Arrival Day celebrations and only had time for the core membership of the SDMS.

He said anyone who underestimates the strength of the SDMS is doing themselves a disservice. He said he believes there is a plot to destabilise the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College.

“I am of the firm view that this was a deliberate ploy to destabilise Lakshmi girls who right now are writing examinations. At least three girls are in contention for the President’s Medal. We have won it three years in succession — a school that was described as a cow shed.”

He said the SDMS is prepared to go straight to the Privy Council in London for a ruling on whether they were right or wrong to tell Nakhid she could not teach at their school with her hijab.

“I want this to be resolved because people like me will die and I don’t know if others will have the fortitude, so I want it to go to the court now and let the court make a determination. Whatever the court says, if we get licks, I will put my tail between my legs and follow the instruction of the court — no Garcia or anybody else.”

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