Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has hailed Satnarayan Maharaj as a national icon who spent his life in service to the country.
“I consider him a great friend and a father figure. Throughout the time I have known him, I have found him to be wise, kind, generous, and always willing to help others.
“He gave me my first job at an SDMS school, an experience which helped shape me, and kindled my own passion for education and working to improve our country’s education system. For this, I am grateful,” she said.
Focussing on his achievements rather than on his death, Persad-Bissessar highlighted several in a press release on Saturday.
She said he worked to develop communities, culture, and build on his vision for education. His strides in cultural development and education reached every citizen and directly touched tens of thousands.
For example, during Maharaj’s tenure as secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), five secondary schools and 12 early childhood education centres were built, and 42 schools were modernised.
Persad-Bissessar, said he recognised the importance of incorporating technology in the classroom, dedicated his life to the fight for equality and equity, challenged the State against discrimination and won, and championed free speech. He was also awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) in 2010.
She noted the landmark case of the constitutionality of the Trinity Cross, TT highest award. Maharaj challenged that its continued existence was in breach of fundamental rights as guaranteed by certain Sections of the Constitution. In 2006 it was ruled that the Trinity Cross was strictly a Christian symbol and so discriminated in a multi-religious society.
“He was a true giant among men, but sadly, this was one battle he could not overcome. TT is poorer for the loss of this great man, who dedicated his entire life to the upliftment and advancement of our people. Even as we mourn his loss, let us remind ourselves of his legacy, and seek to emulate his dedication to building our nation.”