Aranguez-based pundit, Satyanand Maharaj, has written a letter to the Commissioner of Police (CoP) requesting a look at the current crime statistics.
Via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request sent to the commissioner on Sunday, Maharaj said there have been growing concerns that residents of East-Indian descent are the main targets of crime in Aranguez.
Maharaj is the spiritual head of the Satya Anand Ashram Temple of Truth and Bliss in Aranguez and is known for outspoken and controversial statements.
He received backlash from the nation back in April, when during a media conference, he stated that the crime in Aranjuez is against East Indian people and the perpetrators were all black males.
However, in the letter to the CoP from Freedom Law Chambers, which is led by senior counsel Anand Ramlogan, it was stated, “Our client’s statements have generated a lot of public debate on the contentious issue of the Indo-Trinidadian community being disproportionately targeted by young urban African gun-toting bandits.”
It added that Maharaj had been wrongly criticised by several prominent people for daring to raise the racial dimension to the crime of home invasion. One of the justifications by his critics was that he did not provide any statistics or empirical data.
It was however stated in the correspondence that, “A cursory glance at the media reports supports the view that Indo-Trinidadians are disproportionately the victims of home invasions in the Aranjuez area and in Trinidad in general.”
“The criticism of him failing to provide data was “curious” as it is not the responsibility of any citizen to monitor crime and compile statistics but this falls on the shoulders of the State and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS).”
It was said that the TTPS has the Crime and Problem Analysis Branch (CAPAB) which is responsible for compiling statistical data about various crimes.
Under the FOIA, Maharaj is seeking to find out whether the CAPAB or the TTPS compiles statistics and data regarding crimes by reference to key indicators such as race or ethnicity, gender and religion of the perpetrator and the victim and, if so, to provide the statistics for such with regard to home invasions and burglaries from January 1 to May 10, 2023.
He is also seeking to find out the age groupings of the perpetrators of serious and violent crimes for each type of offence and the gender, ethnicity, race, religion, geographical location, educational status and income level of the perpetrators and victims of serious and violent crimes for the same period of this year.
It was noted that, should there be a need for confidentiality, a redacted version of the information can be provided.
The benefits as opposed to the harm of disclosure of exempt documents were outlined. These included that serious and violent crime has risen to “an unprecedented astronomical level”; there has been continuous rise in serious and violent crime in the last seven years under the present administration and that the statistics can also be used to evaluate and assess the success or failure of policies and strategies implemented by the TTPS and/or the Government.
The CoP has 30 days to inform Maharaj of her decision on the request. Should this fail to be done, Maharaj can file a claim for judicial review.