All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union (ATGWU) president general Nirvan Maharaj has described as “comical and laughable” claims that Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj could be facing sedition charges.
In a statement, the ATGWI president general said, “Worst have been said by certain calypsonians, politicians and radio talk show hosts.”
Maharaj said while the union categorically condemned the SDMS boss’ statements in which he referred to Tobagonians as lazy, among other things, he called on the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) and the police to
“cease and desist from the unjustified and unnecessary harassment” of Sat Maharaj.
“Whilst we categorically condemn the statements made by Mr Maharaj on Tobago and do believe he should apologise for the stereotyping and broad-brushing an entire island with generic declarations, we still live in a western liberal democratic society, with a living Constitution and not in an authoritarian, dictatorial police state.”“There is no doubt that this attempt to use the Sedition Act against Mr Maharaj, is clearly malicious and vindictive and designed to teach Mr Maharaj a lesson.”
“His statements though obscene and crude, did not display any deliberate intent to incite treason or lesser commotion or disturbance against public authority, generate disaffection against the constitution, create ill will among different classes of the population, incite or produce lawless action, or violence against any segment of the population. His statements though tasteless in my view certainly were not seditious,”the union’s boss said.
Nirvan Maharaj, who is also head of the National Solidarity Assembly, said the police’s action seemed to be “extremely selective as to what constitutes sedition as worst have been said by calypsonians, politicians and radio talk show hosts, many who would have stereotyped races and religions without limit.”
He said the police should indicate on what grounds Maharaj was chosen to be investigated for sedition and who had ordered the visit to the television station last Thursday.
He said issues such as these are social and cultural and not necessarily illegal and should be dealt with at the community level.
He said the police service has “more pressing issues” such as the escalating crime rate and should instead focus on this rather than Maharaj.”