Maha Sabha: Open-air cremation case a personal matter

Vijay Maharaj - Photo by Roger Jacob
Vijay Maharaj - Photo by Roger Jacob

Maha Sabha head Vijay Maharaj reacted to a High Court ruling in support of open-air cremation by saying that matter had been settled two years ago through talks with the Government.

He told Newsday on Tuesday it was hard for him to comment on the ruling that a past ban on open-air cremations had been unconstitutional and discriminatory against Hindus.

Earlier on Tuesday, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ruled on a lawsuit filed by a woman whose father had died of covid19 but who had faced a ban on open-air cremation which lasted five months during the height of the pandemic. Cindy-Ann Ramsaroop-Persad had argued that her late father had wished to be cremated at Waterloo in line with his Hindu faith, even as she noted an open-air cremation cost $7,500, compared to $18,500 for an indoor cremation.

Maharaj said the woman's court case was "a personal matter" that was different to actions taken by a group of Hindu religious groups inclusive of the Maha Sabha which had lobbied the Government successfully to remove the ban two years ago when Faris Al-Rawi was attorney general.

He said despite the Government easing the open-air ban, the woman had continued her court case.

"It has been such a long time when we had that conversation. It has been more than a year and a half, almost two years now.

"She continued with her matter which was completely different to the matter we had. Our matter was there was a total ban across the board on open-air cremation fire. Her grouse was she was working in a funeral home and wanted to do an open-fire cremation on her father and she was not allowed. This was a personal thing.

"I cannot comment on that. She continued pursuing it until it has come to its climax now. But we had already got the matter open when Faris Al-Rawi was AG."

Maharaj said open-air cremations had resumed for almost two years, but Ramsaroop-Persad went on the basis of being personally affected.

"I have not kept abreast and have not really had the chance to digest it."

He related that a group of Hindu organisations had written to Al-Rawi, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

"After discussion, they decided to open back up, that it was safe to open...

"Yes, she wanted vindication on her own. Maybe, I don't know. I can't make a comment on that.

"The matter was already resolved at our level, the level of the (Maha Sabha) board. I don't blame her. She is entitled to that. Freedom of the democracy."

Maharaj said he was also unable to comment on what the judge might have said about discrimination.


"Maha Sabha: Open-air cremation case a personal matter"

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