THE pundit who organised the “sari protest” outside the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Thursday, is “unreservedly” thanking the Prime Minister for his unconditional apology for the controversial skit which featured two men dressed as gorillas disrobing a woman dressed in a yellow sari at the PNM’s sports and family day in Chaguanas one week ago.
The skit drew swift condemnation from the Hindu community including Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and women’s groups.
On Saturday evening at a PNM political meeting at the Malabar Community Centre, Rowley told supporters: “Tonight on behalf of the People’s National Movement and all concerned, I unreservedly apologise to the Hindu community.
“We have no difficulty and no shame in apologising to the Hindu community.”
Dr Rowley explained to the gathering that he was unaware of the significance of the story which the play resembled — the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. He said he consulted with Hindu leaders who explained what was happening and decided to apologise.
But even as he accepted the PM’s apology, Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, the spiritual head of the Satya Anand Ashram Temple of Truth and Bliss in Aranguez is now calling on National Security Minister Stuart Young to” make a similar act of contrition.” Responding to criticisms of the play, Young had stated it was not meant to offend but was a “a bit of fun.”
Young, in a statement yesterday, also apologised saying he was unaware of the serious religious connotations the skit had for the Hindu community.
“I have never and will never condone or accept any act of violence to women or children, nor do I see race and religious differences as negative issues. I truly believe that every creed and race should find an equal place in TT.”
In a media release, Maharaj said the apology was an about turn for the PM who had, only days before, described the criticisms of the skit as “foolishness.”
Maharaj recalled, Rowley had boasted that his government was half Indian and those Indians had no issue or problem with the skit. “The silence or concurrence of the Indian/Hindu voices in the PNM who had advised the Prime Minister that the skit was not offensive, what of their advice and counsel now? Were they simply ‘yes men’, telling the Prime Minister what he wanted to hear?”
Maharaj admitted that he mobilised members of the Hindu community who were incensed about the skit to lead a peaceful protest outside the OPM.
He said part of the protest included the delivery of a letter to Rowley requesting that he “offer an apology as political leader of the ruling PNM as well as Prime Minister.”
Calls to Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for a response to the apology went unanswered.