Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Spillover crowd at Seetahal’s funeral

IF any evidence was needed to prove that Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal impacted the lives of many people throughout this country, the size and diversity of the crowd in attendance at her funeral yesterday can be produced as exhibit A.

Seetahal, 58, was assassinated while driving in Woodbrook on Sunday around 12.05 a.m. 

Her final rites were yesterday performed at the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church in Tunapuna.

The ceremony,  described as a “service of comfort in solemn remembrance of the life and work of Dana Saroop Seetahal SC”,  was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. yesterday.

An hour before the scheduled start, however, the provided seating was already filled to capacity.

The church is said to be able to seat some 500 people.

Seetahal’s family and other dignitaries including President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar were seated inside the church.

Outside, about six white tents with hundreds of chairs were provided as additional seating. These too were filled.

A big-screen television was provided showing the proceedings.

Among those who were seated outside were former attorneys general Senior Counsel Russell Martineau and Glenda Morean-Phillip; former finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira, former national security minister Joseph Toney and former tourism minister Chandresh Sharma.

Apart from former Cabinet members being present, scholars were also on hand to mourn Seetahal, including Prof Selwyn Ryan, vice principal of the University of the West Indies Prof Rhoda Reddock and Indera Sagewan-Alli.

Staff members from Ma Pau Members Club were also present wearing their company’s T-shirts.

Hundreds of other mourners were also present.

The funeral service began on time after a bell-ringer rang the bell as soon as it was 5 p.m.

Seetahal was given a musical send-off as the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church Choir and pupils of her alma mater, Bishop’s Anstey High School, sang for her.

Soca icon Machel Montano also wrote and performed a love song specifically for Seetahal. Montano said he and Seetahal had been friends for seven years. He questioned who would take care of him now.

The line “I love you” was repeated several times in the song Montano performed while playing a keyboard.

Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan, who was seated outside, was heard saying “that was beautiful” following Montano’s performance.

Exhibit B to prove the impact of Seetahal’s life were the some 15 tributes read in her honour.

The people who read the tributes ranged from family, work colleagues, former students and long-time friends.

Merlin Boyce, a former UWI classmate of Seetahal and long-time friend, said Seetahal missed out being in the Red House during the July 27, 1990 attempted coup only because of a phone call that kept her busy.

Boyce said Seetahal “walked with kings but kept the common touch”.

This common touch was apparent by hundreds of people showing up at the house of mourning yesterday to get a last look at Seetahal.

Hundreds who went to mourn Seetahal at her family’s home yesterday before the funeral service were left disappointed after being unable to view the body.

The viewing of body of Seetahal’s body was scheduled to take place at her family’s home at 24 Wilkinson Street, El Dorado. 

The viewing was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m.

Around 1 p.m., people started to gather to view Seetahal’s body.

Police blocked off vehicular traffic to Wilkinson Street, and part of the Eastern Main Road, Tunapuna.

Cochrane Road where the Aramalaya Presbyterian Church is located was also blocked by police.

Dozens of uniformed officers were present at the home and the church.

Mourners, however, who were seated outside the family’s residence, were prevented from viewing the body.

Hundreds were in attendance with the crowd spilling out into the street.

The street in front the church was also filled with onlookers unable to get seating.