Friday, December 15, 2017

Radica spends another Mother’s Day grieving

...Three years since policeman son slain in forest


flashback: Radica Maharaj-Persad, mother of deceased police constable Anil Persad, displays a photo of her son during an interview in May 2013. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

Mark Fraser

For Radica Maharaj-Persad, Mother’s Day, which was observed yesterday, will never again be a celebration.

It was around that time her son was fired upon and bled to death deep inside a forested area in Rio Claro.

Maharaj-Persad has planned an evening of prayer for today — her son’s third death anniversary.

“I hate Mother’s Day. It is when I yearn for my son the most. No matter where he was, he would always find himself home to wake me up on Mother’s Day morning.

For the past three years I felt tortured on that day. I feel as though my heart is ripping out,” she cried.

Police constable Anil Narry Persad was shot dead during a marijuana eradication exercise in the Cuche/Charuma forest on May 12, 2011.

Maharaj-Persad, a mother of five, said her son’s death was never solved. And she was disappointed in the police officers who accompanied her son on the raid.

“They don’t talk to me anymore. No one comes to tell me anything. It is as if my son was forgotten. I don’t know what happened that day in the forest. But I will find out. God is giving me the strength to stand up and fight for justice for my son,” she said.

Maharaj-Persad said the brutal killing of senior counsel Dana Seetahal and the response by members of the Government and protective services have encouraged her in the fight for justice.

“How can you pay millions of dollars in reward for one person’s killers, but ignore another one? I agree Miss Seetahal was an important person, but because we are poor people our children’s lives are not valued too? This has not put me down. In fact it has encouraged me to fight harder.”

Maharaj-Persad has asked for a thorough investigation into what happened the day her child was killed. “We have conflicting stories. We want to know the truth, so I can put my child to rest in peace. I want to know how he died. This is murder. If my child was sick and he died I would have been satisfied. But my son was healthy. He went to work and he was murdered,” she said.

Maharaj-Persad has filed a report at the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). “Miss Gillian Lucky has been in contact with me. She is still waiting on some evidence, but I am hopeful that she can see this through for me,” she said.

Maharaj-Persad said senior police officers and then Minister of National Security John Sandy visited her home on the night her son died. “But since then they have not returned. On the first death anniversary some officers came with gifts. I told them I don’t want it. They left the gifts. They never came again,” she said.

Maharaj-Persad said her strength comes from her God. “Every morning I get up and pray for God to give me the strength to go one without my child. To be able to live to take care of my other children. I framed two large photographs of my son and I turn to it every morning and say my prayers. He gives me the strength. Not a day goes by that I don’t cry for my child. I miss him so much,” she said.

Maharaj-Persad said she has found a new love for plants, one of her son’s passions.

“That is where I get some peace. I have a lot of plants now, maybe because that was one of the things he loved to do. I get some comfort in that. My husband also grieves silently. He spends most of his time trying to complete the house our son started before he died. My husband wants to do it alone. He is determined to finish this house because it was Anil’s dream,” she said.

It is alleged that Maharj-Persad’s son and other officers were fired on by three men guarding a marijuana plantation and Persad was hit.

Two suspects—Teeleckchand Arjoon, 46, and Jagdeo Seecharan, 47—were shot in the head and died at the scene. A third suspect escaped and was never found.

Persad remained in the forest until a Ministry of National Security helicopter arrived two and a half hours later. He died on arrival at San Fernando General Hospital. An autopsy found he bled to death.

Maharaj-Persad said some of the Government’s promises of compensation were fulfilled. “But the one I want fulfilled is the promise to have a full-scale investigation into my son’s death. I will not rest until I find out how he died. I need to know the truth,” she said.